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Lawsuit alleges Poplar Living Center staff did not diagnose woman's fractured hip for almost a month

Lawsuit alleges Poplar Living Center staff did not diagnose woman's fractured hip for almost a month

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Poplar Living Center

The Poplar Living Center, pictured Friday in Casper, recently settled a lawsuit alleging its staff injured a resident. 

Another former patient of Poplar Living Center filed a lawsuit against the nursing home, the most recent claim against the facility with a documented history of poor care.

The suit, filed Thursday in Natrona County District Court, alleges that staff at Poplar Living Center did not diagnose a patient’s fractured pelvis for nearly a month after she fell, despite the woman’s constant complaints of severe pain.

An attorney for the nursing home did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Calls to the nursing home Thursday were not answered, and there was no voicemail set up.

The patient was admitted to the nursing home on March 17, 2014, with dementia and osteoarthritis. Staff at the home found that the woman, Chong Phillips, had a high risk of falling, according to the suit.

Despite the assessment, Poplar “failed to implement” common measures that would reduce her risk of falling, the suit states. In the first four months of her stay, Phillips fell at least 18 times. The nursing home failed to complete federally required reviews after each fall, according to the suit.

After a fall on July 11, 2014, Phillips was unable to bear weight on her left leg, unable to walk and was “demonstrating extreme pain,” the suit states.

Phillips’ condition didn’t improve for two weeks, and staff notified a doctor, who came to check on her July 28, 2014.

The doctor noted Phillips was in “obvious pain” and placed orders for the woman to have X-rays performed on her pelvis, knee and femur on the left side. The doctor also prescribed a painkiller.

However, the staff never took Phillips to a hospital for the tests and X-rays were never completed, the suit alleges. Staff also did not give the painkiller to Phillips until 34 hours after the prescription was written, though the facility had the pill in stock at the time.

Phillips’ son became increasingly worried about his mother. When he asked Poplar staff whether they had figured out why she was in so much pain, the staff members told him she was being well cared for and that X-rays showed no serious injury, the suit states.

The son took the matter into his own hands on Aug. 4, 2014, and drove Phillips to Casper Orthopedics. X-rays there showed that she had a weeks-old fracture to her hip joint, according to the suit.

Surgeons replaced Phillips’ left hip three days later.

A Centers for Medicaid and Medicare inspection report from August 2014 cites Poplar Living Center twice for breaking federal standards in its care for Phillips. The report states the nursing home failed to “provide necessary care and services” in her case and didn’t ensure that the facility was free from hazards and provide adequate supervision to prevent avoidable accidents. The report backs up many of the facts in the lawsuit.

In the report, the director of nursing confirmed that the staff failed to schedule an appointment with a specialist for Phillips after the July 11 fall.

The lawsuit states the nursing home “severely neglected” Phillips by failing to keep her from falling and for not diagnosing her broken hip. The lawsuit also cites concerns about inadequate staffing.

“(Poplar Living Center) has demonstrated a pattern of negligent, willful and reckless conduct in caring for patients, including Ms. Phillips,” the suit states.

The nursing home has settled six wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits in the past six years.

Repeated inspections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also cite a pattern of understaffing, improper care and unsafe building conditions. The agency classified the nursing home as a facility that needs closer monitoring than others because of a “history of persistent poor quality of care.” It is the only nursing home in Casper with that designation.

In response to previous questions about allegations against the nursing home, Poplar Living Center released a statement through one of its attorneys that it “continues to seek opportunities to improve the care and services we provide for those individuals we have to privilege to serve every day. We appreciate the efforts our staff have made to provide quality care and quality of life for our residents.”

Poplar Living Center is owned and operated by Delaware-based SavaSeniorCare. The company runs more than 230 nursing homes across the country, including Cheyenne Healthcare Center and Sheridan Manor.


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