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Court reinstates suit alleging deficient care at geriatric center

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A federal appeals court has reinstated litigation filed by a now-deceased patient against her skilled nursing facility, in which she charged it with providing deficient care that led to an amputation.

Georgia Anne Hope was admitted at age 90 to the Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Lima, Pennsylvania, in January 2014 and stayed through November 2014, according to Wednesday’s ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Carl Louis Robinson, as executor of the Estate of Georgia Anne Hope v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center.

Ms. Hope charged that Fair Acres and its employees failed to provide her with adequate care and treatment. She said it failed to recognize that her condition was declining and that she had anemia, and to assist her when she began experiencing pain, swelling and redness, according to the ruling.

She said as a result she suffered infections, gangrene, dehydration and a wound that eventually led to her right leg’s amputation above the knee.

Ms. Hope filed suit against the facility in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, charging failure-to-train liability in violation of federal civil rights law.

While the suit was pending, Ms. Hope died, but her lawyer never informed the trial court. The trial court judge subsequently dismissed the suit with prejudice for failure to state a claim. The suit was unanimously reinstated by a three-judge appeals court panel.

Ms. Hope alleged facts adequate “to support her contention that Fair Acres demonstrated deliberate indifference through its failure to properly train and supervise its staff,” said the ruling.

Although she alleged only generally that training was inadequate, “the inadequacy of training can plausibly be inferred from Hope’s allegations regarding the number of and character of deficiency citations issued to Fair Acres by federal and state regulators,” said the ruling.

Ms. Hope alleged that in 2014 the home was cited with 30 deficiencies in its patient care that “put the facility in the 97th percentile for number of deficiencies,” the ruling said, in holding Ms. Hope had sufficiently pleaded a failure-to-train theory liability claim and remanding the case for further proceedings.