The Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC) and Dr. Hany Bashandy are facing a medical malpractice claim filed by Crystal Rodriguez in the Santa Barbara Superior Court following the death of her husband Daniel Rodriguez. The defendants are alleged to have been negligent when providing medical care for Mr. Rodriguez, who began experiencing conditions including cellulitis and Toxic Shock Syndrome while being treated at LVMC.
The complaint says that Rodriguez was released prematurely from the hospital despite his declining conditions and died several days later. Mr. Rodriguez initially entered LVMC due to excessive swelling in his leg and soon showed signs of a bacterial infection and his physical condition rapidly deteriorated.
Rodriguez had been transferred to a critical treatment unit at LVMC and was said to have exhibited high levels of ammonia and also developed pneumonia. During this period Dr. Bashandy is accused of neglecting Rodriguez, despite his worsened status. He was said to have been left “unmonitored” for extended periods of time. One day after his release, Rodriguez was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where the medical staff questioned why he had been released from the hospital.
The claim states that the medical staff at LVMC demonstrated “negligence, carelessness, and a lack of prudence and reasonable judgment” in caring for the plaintiff. The family is seeking monetary damages for funeral costs and lost future income that Rodriguez would have provided for the family. Non-economic damages sought in the claim include loss of marital relationship, companionship, protection, moral support and others.
Facility Recently Cited for Problems
The lawsuit was filed shortly after LVMC faced potential losses of certification after failing a state inspection. Regulators made an unannounced visit to the facility and found there were insufficient infection control measures in place, poor training of employees, and inadequate handling of food. The CMS, a division of the Department of Health & Human Services, compiled a lengthy report that showed the many problems identified in the inspection.
The facility faced potential decertification from Medicare, Medicaid, and Medi-Cal, which make up an estimated 75% of the reimbursement that the hospital receives. Their CEO, Jim Raggio, explained that the violations were mostly minor and that the facility has since implemented policies and procedures that resulted in the correction of the problems.
Plaintiff Medical Conditions
Bacteria may cause cellulitis, an infection of the skin that creates swelling and redness in the affected area. It typically develops in the region of the legs but also may occur on the face and arms. If the infection is not properly treated it may extend into the blood and lymph nodes, creating a potentially fatal condition. Cellulitis is not typically spread from person-to-person, but rather when a break in the skin comes in contact with the bacteria that then gains access to the body.
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
The Staphylococcus strain of bacteria can lead to TSS. The symptoms include a significant drop in blood pressure, fever, and nausea. The toxins that develop can be fatal once they progress into organs and muscles. It is most common in women who are menstruating, particularly when the individual uses tampons that are highly absorbent.