Lawsuit accuses Little Rock nursing home of negligence in 68-year-old's death

A daughter says her mother’s death earlier this year resulted from a Little Rock nursing home’s alleged pattern of negligence.

In a lawsuit, Hillary Rudkin accuses Arkansas Elder Outreach, operating as Pleasant Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation, of failing to adequately address a history of falls and safety concerns that started days after Clara Hoyt, 68, moved into the nursing home.

Hoyt, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia, was admitted into the long-term care facility Oct. 23, 2012, according to a document filed Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court. The first incident was reported Oct. 31, 2012.

The night before Hoyt's death earlier this year, a licensed practical nurse noted that Hoyt had a low-air loss mattress, a floor mat and side rails — a setup that Rudkin says was negligent given her mother's history of falls and known possibility of being an "entrapment zone."

Around 5 a.m. March 25, a nursing home aide reportedly found Hoyt unresponsive and off of her bed, with "her knees on the fall mat, her head resting against the mattress and her chin pointing toward the side rail," the lawsuit states.

Nursing home employees initially told Rudkin that her mothers death was the result of “natural causes” after Hoyt fell off her bed, which then resulted in distress and a heart attack, the document states.

Investigations performed by a pathologist and the Pulaski County coroner's office later determined Hoyt's cause of death to be positional asphyxia.

The coroner's office said it received "three totally different stories" from three Pleasant Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation employees regarding Hoyt's death.

On Dec. 32, 2012, the nursing home installed an alarm on Hoyt’s bed after four falls, records show. That alarm was removed Jan. 20, 2014, because of months of no reported falls.

Hoyt fell out of her bed again Nov. 22, 2014, resulting in a hematoma and laceration that produced “a large amount of blood,” the lawsuit states. Records show a bed alarm was not reinstalled after that incident.

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