Cost Cutting Alleged Culprit in Near Fatality at Westwood Lodge

The Conservator of a mentally ill man brought suit alleging that “cost cutting” was responsible for the patient being prescribed medication he was allergic to, causing a “near fatality” while he was a patient at Westwood Lodge in January 2011.

The plaintiff alleged:

      One way UHS cuts costs is to reduce staffing and underpay its remaining employees. As a result, facilities such as the Westood Lodge are chronically understaffed and forced to deliver substandard care. Understaffing causes, among other problems, patient neglect and medication errors, which can result in serious injury to UHS patients. The need to conceal understaffing from state regulators also leads to consistent failures to report abuse and neglect. This case concerns the tragic consequences of understaffing….

      As a result of the ‘chaotic’ environment at Westwood Lodge, Defendants acted with gross negligence and reckless abandon toward Michael Monroe, a mentally ill patient admitted to the facility in January 2011….

      Defendants’ failings were not isolated lapses in judgment or concentration. Rather, the repeated administration of Bactrim to Mr. Monroe represented an utter lack of systemic controls and a failure to employ even rudimentary safeguards–the hallmarks of gross negligence and reckless behavior. And the lack of systemic controls and routine precautions are the natural, probable and foreseeable consequences of UHS’s and Westwood Lodge’s effort to boost profits by reducing personnel to dangerously low staff levels….

In accordance with the case settlement, the Suffolk Superior Court ordered the establishment of the Michael Monroe Irrevocable Special Needs Trust.