Diabetic Patient Dies After Given Too Much Medication at California Care Facility

A diabetic patient has died at Bella Vista transitional care facility located in San Luis Obispo County in California, and the home is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit. The civil lawsuit states care staff gave an 85-year-old female patient too much medication to manage her diabetes when they dispensed four doses of medicine in less than four hours.

According to the complaint, the woman also had dementia, hypertension, hyperlipidemia in addition to her diabetes while a patient at Bella Vista the last eight months. She relied on facility staff for help with nearly all of her daily living activities and depended on them to manage her conditions and medications. As outlined in local news reports, the troubling events leading up to the woman’s death began in the early morning hours.

  • On the day of her death, her blood sugar was taken at 5:35 a.m. and was found to be dangerously high, prompting a doctor to order ten units of insulin be administered.
  • Her blood sugar was to be rechecked an hour later.
  • At 6:06 a.m., additional insulin was administered per her typical medication schedule, in spite of the fact she’d received a previous dose about half an hour before.
  • She was given more insulin at 7 a.m. after a staff member told the doctor a blood sugar reading taken at 6:06 a.m. showed her levels were still too high.
  • She was then given a dose of Metformin, a diabetes medication taken in conjunction with insulin, at 8 a.m., per her typical schedule.
  • At 9:40 a.m., the woman was found not breathing and covered in vomit and pronounced dead. Her blood sugar was too low to calculate a reading.

The attorney representing the woman’s family told local news that this was “one big mistake made by several people” and that the woman had died because staff failed to follow her usual medication schedule on top of doctor-specified doses the morning of her death.

Nursing Home Staff Need to Be Available and Trained in Protocols to Address Emergent Diabetic Needs

Nearly 30 percent of nursing home populations are living with diabetes and rely on staff to manage the disease’s terrible burden with medication, diet, and monitoring. Problems with understaffing can create holes in care routines and at times, prevent the life-saving support required for residents with diabetic needs.

Unfortunately, understaffing issues and administrative turnover are believed to also have contributed to this patient’s untimely passing. That being known, this facility has previously been cited for:

  • failing to meet minimum staffing requirements
  • failing to ensure call lights were in reach of residents
  • failing to provide showers
  • asking certified nursing assistants to perform nursing assessments beyond their scope

Nursing homes must be held accountable for deaths caused by its failures to meet staffing requirements and keep residents with health complications safe.

Nursing Homes Should Be Adequately Staffed

The Illinois nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are intimately familiar with the care provided at nearly every nursing facility in the Chicago area. We have worked with dozens of clients winning numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of victims of nursing home negligence and abuse. We have seen legal accountability spur changes on a system-wide level that improves care for others, including those with vulnerable conditions like diabetes.

Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.

Read Attorney Steve Levin’s opinion piece, “Make nursing homes safer by adequately staffing them.” in The Southern Illinoisan.