SNF staff misread chart, failed to resuscitate resident, family's lawsuit claims

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages for negligence and wrongful death.
The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages for negligence and wrongful death.

A nursing assistant at an Illinois skilled nursing facility allegedly misread a medical chart and therefore declined to resuscitate a 52-year-old resident prior to her death last year, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The family of Kimberly Cencula said that upon her admission to Warren Barr North Shore in Highland Park, IL, in October 2015, she signed a form stating that she wished to be resuscitated if the need arose. Cencula, who had diabetes and kidney disease, was admitted to the facility for three weeks of rehabilitation following a bout of pneumonia.

Her family claims that stay was extended to six months due to problems within the facility, including Cencula falling and breaking her hip while unattended. The facility denies any wrongdoing.

A nursing assistant at the facility reportedly found Cencula unconscious early in the morning of March 29, 2016. Nearly a half hour later, a call was placed to emergency services to report the death of a resident who had not wished to be resuscitated.

Ten minutes later, another call was placed to emergency services, stating the resident's form had been misread and requesting that paramedics respond immediately. Staff began resuscitation efforts shortly after making the second call, according to the lawsuit. Cencula was pronounced dead upon the emergency responders' arrival.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages for negligence and wrongful death.

Warren Barr officials said in a statement that while the facility can't comment on the specifics of Cencula's condition due to privacy laws and the ongoing litigation, “we respectfully disagree with all of the allegations that have been made in the lawsuit.”

“Kimberly received the highest level of care throughout her stay at Warren Barr North Shore. We disagree with the allegation that our nursing staff's handling of Kimberly's care and treatment somehow caused Kimberly's death,” the statement said. “While we do not invite litigation, we do look forward to the opportunity to defend ourselves within the context of the lawsuit the family has elected to file.”

Warren Barr's policies were investigated by the Illinois Department of Public Health following Cencula's death and the facility was fined $25,000, according to the family's attorney. Residents of the facility now wear a pink bracelet if they do not want to be resuscitated, according to local reports.