Money, gavel

A California nursing facility is being forced to pay $1 million after the delayed delivery of a special air mattress may have worsened a resident’s pressure ulcer, contributing to her eventual death.

An appeals court ruled on Friday that an arbitrator did not exceed her authority by awarding the patient damages in excess of the $250,000 cap contained in the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, Bloomberg Law reported.

The decision comes after a doctor had ordered a low-air mattress to help treat Patricia Porter’s severe pressure ulcer. The order was made on July 4, 2012, shortly after Porter was admitted to the Villa Huntington Drive Healthcare Center, but the mattress did not arrive until July 12. Caregivers at the Arcadia, CA, nursing facility also allegedly did not turn Porter every two hours, and left her sitting in a wheelchair for six hours, further complicating her injuries. She died in November 2012 from sepsis stemming from her sore and urinary infections.

A spokeswoman for the Huntington Drive Health & Rehabilitation Center declined to comment when reached by McKnight’s on Monday. According to court documents, the facility had argued that the arbitrator exceeded her powers by awarding non-economic damages in lump sums, rather than in proportion to each defendant’s percentage of fault. It also contended that the arbitrator failed to make any findings against parent company AG Arcadia and its facilities.

Huntington Drive Health also asserted that the arbitrator was prejudiced in the matter and did not grant the SNF added time to present testimony from treating nurses and its medical expert, according to court documents.

California’s  arbitration awards can be reviewed by a court in limited circumstances, but the California Court of Appeal, Second District, deemed that the case did not meet those requirements. That’s because AG Arcadia did not identify any unwaivable statutory rights that the $1 million award violated, Bloomberg reported.