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Lawsuit: 95-year-old Alzheimer's patient exposed to feces, not given proper medication

Retirement facility sued for gross negligence
Posted: 11:14 PM, Apr 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-26 08:35:21Z

Ljubica Lazarevic lived a long life, 95-years and four months. But, her family wonders how much time she might have had left, and they say because of the negligence of her caretakers they’ll never know.

“She kept active she came to the house she played real intense card games,” her daughter Zorka Hufnagel said. “She survived a war, she survived many things in her life. But, this was something she could not come back from.”

Hufnagel said her mother died on March 9, 2016. Months before she was by her bedside blowing out candles for her mom’s 95th birthday on November 27. 

“We had a great time, she ordered a beer,” Hufnagel said.

When Hufnagel said she came back to visit during Christmas her mom had completely changed.

 

IN DEPTH: How to protect nursing home residents and report suspected abuse or neglect

 

“It was one thing after another thing, everything was off, everything, we could not figure out what was going on,” Hufnagel said. “Her balance wasn't right, as she tried to get up something just seemed so odd. She reached for a glass of water and couldn’t grab it.”

Hufnagel said she went to Horizon Bay, now Brookdale Senior Living, and asked for her mom’s medicine. What Hufnagel said she heard next was unimaginable.

“She wasn't getting her medication,” Hufnagel said. “You trusted this was being done. Then you find out in one moment this vital medication just stopped, not weaned off and monitored carefully, just abruptly stopped. And for no reason other than what? Nobody had a reason.”

According to medical records, the Alzheimer’s medicine stopped being given to Lazarevic on Dec. 20, 2015. For the next eight days records from the senior facility show her prescription was on file, but Lazarevic was not given her medicine.

Hufnagel says it caused her mom to go downhill fast, leading to frequent falls, and an inability to function.

“Mother never came back. She was always, after that, in a hospital or rehab she never returned to her life,” Hufnagel said.

Her mom died on March 9, 2016.

Hufnagel filed a civil suit against the senior facility. Her lawyer, Peter Sartes, said the facility was negligent.

"The patient has a right to dignified care a right to be free from neglect and abuse," Sartes said. "Unfortunately, a lot of these assisted living facilities have no problem cashing a check, and the checks are large, and the reality is it becomes a business, and they forget about the humanity of the people they are dealing with. This woman had the same medication for months or years and then all of a sudden someone forgets to order it someone forgets to give it to her."

Lazarevich's family said they thought the facility was providing her with a safe home.

“Home is some place where you are supposed to feel safe, there's a trust,” Hufnagel said. “Her trust was seriously breached and there is a great cost for that, her life and when I discussed it with the director I never received any response. No one ever called us and said it was looked into and we have new procedures in place so this doesn't happen again to anyone else, we heard from nobody.”

ABC Action News reached out to the facility for comment and received this response:

“We are unable to comment on pending litigation. However, it’s important to note that the safety and high quality care we provide our residents is our highest priority,” Heather Hunter a Sr. Public Relations Specialist with Brookdale Senior Living said.

Brookdale Senior Living is being sued for Negligence, Violations of State Regulatory Statute, and Gross Negligence. 

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