According to the suit, Alda Gray’s oxygen levels dropped as low as 71 percent. This after her personal physician had made it clear that he wanted Ms. Gray’s oxygen levels at 90 percent. One of the reasons it took as long as it did to file the lawsuit is because the Landmark Care Center did not respond to attempts to settle outside of court.
Oxygen levels of 71 percent?
Low blood oxygen, otherwise known as hypoxemia, means that someone has a lower than normal level of oxygen in his or her blood. The body needs a certain level of oxygen circulating in the blood in order to function properly.
However, a patient is commonly diagnosed with hypoxemia if their oxygen levels are below 90. In that event, some patients may even receive oxygen. In the case of Ms. Gray, the family argues that her oxygen levels dropped to as low as 71 percent. Oftentimes hypoxemia means that the patient suffers from shallow, labored breathing, lethargy, neurological difficulties, bluish skin, numbness, and headaches.
Once the oxygen saturation drops below 80 percent, doctors qualify that as severe hypoxemia. At that point, the oxygen in the blood is so low that it may cause long-term damage to our tissue and can disrupt bodily function. Given that 80 percent is enough to qualify as severe hypoxemia, it might give you just a brief indication of how serious the situation was – yet the staff did not contact her personal physician.
A self-serving attempt to leverage a lawsuit?
The fact that staff members did not react to her low blood oxygen levels is shameful in its own right, but the response from Hyatt Family Facilities might even be worse. The Hyatt Family Facilities owns a number of different nursing homes, including the one in question. While they could have opted to remain quiet and show some degree of dignity, instead they reacted incredulously. They openly wondered why it took almost three years after Ms. Gray died before the family filed a lawsuit.
The response from the president of Hyatt Family Facilities – Randy Hyatt – was that the Hyatt Family Facilities saw the lawsuit as nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to leverage more monetary gain. You read that correctly, the president of the company itself did wonder aloud how family members dared bring forth a lawsuit.
Unfortunately for Mr. Hyatt, the three cases handled by a Department of Social and Human Services investigation in 2011 regarding the Landmark Care Center tend to discredit his statement a bit. Patient deaths were involved in two of those three cases. Interestingly enough, while the Hyatt Family Facilities did challenge the findings of the three investigations, they suspended the employees because of said investigations.
Why it is important to speak out
Perhaps Mr. Hyatt does not understand that for families whose loved ones have been the victim of negligent or abusive nursing home staff, it is not about monetary gain. It is about making sure that the tragic events that happened to people close to them do not occur to someone else. As long as large corporations refuse to pay attention and acknowledge their mistakes otherwise, a lawsuit might be the best and only way to demand change.