A family has settled a malpractice lawsuit against Clovis Community Medical Center over the death of their elderly mother.
Clarissa Ardern, 93, of Clovis, died more than two years ago.
Ardern’s daughter, Kristin Vogel of Sonora, sued the hospital in May 2015. On Tuesday, Vogel’s lawyer, Moseley C. Collins of El Dorado Hills, said a settlement had been reached to the satisfaction of Vogel and the hospital. Because of a confidentiality agreement, he and a hospital spokeswoman could not comment further Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, Ardern died Nov. 27, 2013, when she stopped breathing after being given a powerful narcotic painkiller.
Before her hospitalization, Ardern had a great life, Collins said Monday. “She went to all the family events. She seemed to be very active and vibrant.”
She went to all the family events. She seemed to be very active and vibrant.
Moseley C. Collins, El Dorado Hills lawyer
After Ardern’s death in the hospital, the family reported the incident to the California Department of Public Health, which investigates complaints against hospitals and nursing homes. The state substantiated the complaint in August 2014 and cited the hospital for deficiencies in the patient’s care, Moseley said.
Clovis Community said Monday that it took corrective action, which was approved by the state.
According to the lawsuit, Ardern had vomiting, chest pain and other symptoms on Nov. 24, 2013, when she was taken by ambulance to Clovis Community. A nurse failed to assess or document her pain but gave Ardern pain medications, including Dilaudid and morphine, the lawsuit said.
Ardern was diagnosed with a gastric obstruction that prevented her stomach from emptying, and a tube was inserted that passed through her nose to her stomach to allow suctioning, the lawsuit said. But Ardern accidentally pulled the tube out, and attempts to reinsert it were unsuccessful. Orders then were given to take Ardern to the radiology department for a new tube to be inserted. But prior to being taken to the radiology department, a nurse gave her a dose of Dilaudid, an opioid painkiller.
The incident was clearly unfortunate and we worked with the state when it occurred more than a year ago. It was investigated and we completed corrective steps that were approved by the state and included a thorough investigation of our policies, adjustments in our procedures and appropriate training of our staff.
Michelle Von Tersch, spokeswoman for Clovis Community Medical Center
The nurse failed to tell the radiology department that Ardern had been given the drug, which can cause respiratory distress, and equipment that would have monitored her breathing was not used during the procedure, the lawsuit said. When Ardern was returned to her room, she was found unresponsive, the lawsuit said. She was put on a breathing mask and given Narcan, a narcotic reversal drug, to block the effects of the Dilaudid. But Ardern’s health deteriorated. She died due to respiratory failure caused by the Dilaudid given to her in the hospital, the lawsuit said.
Michelle Von Tersch, a spokeswoman for Clovis Community, issued a statement Monday about the lawsuit:
“The incident was clearly unfortunate, and we worked with the state when it occurred more than a year ago. It was investigated and we completed corrective steps that were approved by the state and included a thorough investigation of our policies, adjustments in our procedures and appropriate training of our staff.”
Collins on Monday would not say how much the family sought in damages, but said: “One of the goals of the lawsuit is that the hospital will look at what happened here and not let it happen to other patients who are treated there.”