Patient Dies After Nurse Illegally Prescribes Wrong Medication, Lawsuit Claims

nursing home neglect lawsuit against bickford of rocky river

When Philip Woodruff entered the assisted living facility, it was to be a short stay. Philip suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was in the early stages of dementia, and his wife was in the process of moving them to a new house that would be safer for him. When their new home was ready, Philip was to return to his wife’s loving care.

Two months later, Philip was dead.

When you stay at an assisted living facility, you expect expert care. You expect the facility to provide professional-level services and in-depth knowledge. When it comes to Bickford of Rocky River, though, we believe the opposite proved to be the case: we believe a nurse gave Philip a high dosage of a drug that is well known to increase mortality in Parkinson’s patients, without so much as a doctor’s signature on the order.

Eadie Hill is proud to be bringing justice to the memory of Philip Woodruff.


A Shocking Display of Recklessness

On April 18, 2022, Eadie Hill had the honor of filing a lawsuit against Bickford of Rocky River and Brian Woods on behalf of the estate of Philip Woodruff.

When Philip Woodruff entered Bickford of Rocky River on March 30, 2021, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and was in the early stages of dementia. According to Bickford’s initial assessment of Philip, he was able to communicate freely, he was alert and ambulatory, and he was independent with his eating and drinking.

There was every reason to believe that Philip would live for much longer. In fact, his life expectancy was 7.8 years from the time he was admitted according to government produced life tables.  Unfortunately, according to the complaint, Bickford of Rocky River’s shocking recklessness led him to a tragic and premature death two months to the day after he first entered the facility. The treatment we believe Philip received at Bickford is a far cry from the claims on their corporate website that their “purpose is to do whatever it takes to make [their] residents happy.”

On April 15, 2001, Bickford staff noticed Philip wandering in another resident’s room before taking his shirt off and laying down on the floor—Philip had been known to wander.  From a review of the records, it appears a Bickford Licensed practical nurse (LPN) ordered a 5 mg dose of the antipsychotic medication, Risperidone, to be administered to Philip twice a day. Not only has the medical community known for over 25 years that Risperidone can worsen motor symptoms and increase mortality in Parkinson’s patients, but Philip was apparently “prescribed” 10–20 times the appropriate starting dose.

The handwritten physician’s order did not indicate a prescribing physician or nurse practitioner. All evidence we’ve seen suggests to us that the prescription was issued, without authority, by the LPN.

The effect on Philip’s health was swift and devastating. After being given at least 8 doses from April 17 to April 19, according to records,  Bickford staff found Philip in a highly diminished state—weak, non-responsive, and not eating or drinking.

When Philip’s condition did not improve upon discontinuing Risperidone, he was taken to the Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital where he was diagnosed with severe sepsis, aspirational pneumonia, acute kidney injury, and other disorders directly related to the use of Risperidone.

He was discharged from the hospital and admitted to Sprenger Health Care Towne Center for continued treatment, where staff found him unable to communicate in any way.

On May 30, having never recovered from his post-sepsis syndrome, Philip passed away.

We believe Philip’s death was wholly avoidable. Although nothing can bring him back, our team of attorneys is fighting hard to provide some measure of justice to Philip’s grieving family.

Causes of Action

The lawsuit we filed against Bickford of Rocky River and Brian Woods alleges the following causes of action:

1. Survivorship/Negligence/Recklessness: The staff of Bickford of Rocky River failed to provide proper care and treatment which they knew or should have known Philip required. As a result, they consciously disregarded his rights.

2. Wrongful Death: As a direct result of Bickford’s negligence and recklessness, Philip sustained injuries that caused his untimely and wrongful death.

3. Nursing Home Resident Rights Violation: The defendants violated Philip’s rights, as a resident of their facility, to adequate and appropriate medical treatment and care.

4. Civil Conspiracy: The defendants had a mutual understanding or an express or tacit agreement to provide inadequate care in order to maximize their own profit.

This is truly a case where profits were prioritized over patient care. Bickford of Rocky River is a for-profit enterprise whose primary goal is to maximize their earnings. An assisted living facility’s biggest source of revenue is its residents, and its largest expense is staffing. Therefore, it is in their financial interest to take on more residents than they have the staff to care for.

This is not only a regulatory violation, but a recipe for tragedy. By placing the bottom line above the lives of patients like Philip Woodruff, Bickford of Rocky River has truly betrayed the trust of the Rocky River community, and should be held fully responsible for the foreseeable harm that will inevitably result from their profits-over-safety model.

Fighting to End Neglect and Abuse

The kind of negligence and recklessness that we believe led to Philip’s wrongful death is, unfortunately, all too prevalent in long-term care facilities. When you or a loved one enters a nursing home or assisted living facility, you have every right to expect the highest level of care, safety, and respect.

At Eadie Hill, we are fighting to end the abuse and neglect that happens in these long-term facilities—particularly those that run as for-profit businesses.

We work to ensure that long-term care facilities provide their patients with a safe, well-staffed living environment by holding  them accountable when they don’t.

About Bickford of Rocky River

Looking at the commentary of former Bickford employees gives a good idea of the nature of the operation run by this for-profit facility. On Glassdoor, one ex-caregiver warned “Don’t work here,” noting that the facility requires “low pay for hard work.” Trying to maximize their profits, they employ overworked and disgruntled staff who cannot provide the level of care their patients require.

Another former RN echoed these sentiments, noting that Bickford has “horrible administration” and the underpaid staff suffer through “horrible working conditions.” This leads them to “take shortcuts that affect resident care.”

These reviews and others shed a harsh light on the operating principles of not only Bickford of Rocky River, but all the facilities run by the Bickford Senior Living Group.

Bickford of Rocky River, LLC
21600 Detroit Rd.
Rocky River, Ohio 44117

Bickford Senior Living Group, LLC
c/o Legal Department
13795 S Mur Len Rd Suite 301
Olathe, Kansas 66062

Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

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