BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Bakersfield healthcare facility where the coronavirus has infected dozens of patients and employees has been sued six times since June of 2017, with allegations including medical malpractice, elder abuse and neglect and wrongful death.
One of those lawsuits alleges Kingston Healthcare Center operated on a “profits over people” scheme where it understaffed the facility to lower expenses.
The facility is under heavy scrutiny after 16 patients and 25 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, as KGET’s Alex Fisher learned last week. Located at 329 Real Road, it has been cited 15 times by the state Department of Public Health since 2015. Initial penalties for those citations ranged from $14,000 to $120,000, according to the department’s website.
The citations were issued for, among other things, failing to bathe residents, releasing confidential medical records to someone who wasn’t a relative and “failing to ensure residents were free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, or mistreatment,” according to court records.
The Kern County Superior Court website shows several cases pending against the facility, the most recent a lawsuit filed in April of last year.
The suit says Kingston, as well as Bakersfield Heart Hospital and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, “impermissibly delayed, failed or were negligent in providing proper care resulting in severe injury” to the plaintiff. It says the injuries suffered by the plaintiff prevent him from “from attending to his usual occupation, employment oppoitunities, benefits and advantages” and will continue to impact him in the future.
The suit is currently scheduled to go to trial in June 2021.
Another lawsuit, this one filed in February 2019, alleges elder abuse and neglect and wrongful death in the case of a patient who was rehabilitating at Kingston after a fall at home where screws were surgically placed inside the patient to allow his bones to heal properly.
The patient had a number of medical issues which would require hourly monitoring, according to the suit.
“On information and belief, a medical doctor never met with or checked on (the patient) to assess what appropriate medical interventions are necessary for a person in his medical condition or as his condition changed,” the suit says. The records show the facility’s physician only gave orders by telephone during the patient’s nine days at Kingston.
Additionally, the records indicate no treatment plan was created for the patient’s diabetes, and he wasn’t given antibiotics for a urinary tract infection as was ordered by a local hospital, the suit says. On Feb. 3, 2018, during his stay at the facility, the patient said he was in a lot of pain and felt his care was not being properly managed, according to a nurse’s note.
Eight days later — the day of the patient’s death — nurse’s notes show there was a three-hour period between when his blood sugar levels were checked. During that time, his blood sugar rose to dangerously high levels, soaring to more than 300 points above normal, according to the suit.
The patient was transported to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital in full cardiac arrest and hospital staff were unable to revive him.
“The causes of (the patient’s) death were preventable if Kingston would have followed the standard of care in monitoring his conditions and administering the appropriate antibiotics,” the suit says.
It goes on to say, “Kingston’s neglect and abuse of its residents…is due to the fact that it conceived, implemented, and carried out a scheme to place “profits over people” whereby it intentionally underfunded and understaffed the facility in order to decrease expenses and increase profits while compromising the custodial care services provided to (the patient).”
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August.
The firm handling that case, Chain Cohn Stiles, has been inundated with calls since news broke of the coronavirus outbreak at Kingston, a spokesman said. It’s too early to know whether any claims will be filed against the facility as they would likely have to be death claims.
According to the federal medicare.gov website, Kingston has a poor record of patient care, with 39 citations in the last three years. The website says the state average of citations is 13 and the national average is 8.
The medicare website says Kingston has “History of persistent poor quality of care” and is on a special watch list. Allegations range from infection control to patient rights and patient abuse.