Lawsuit Claims Nursing Assistant Misread Patient's Chart, Failed to Resuscitate

A lawsuit filed Tuesday against a suburban nursing home claims one of the home's residents died after a nursing assistant misread her chart and failed to resuscitate her.

Kimberly Cencula, 52, of Lake Villa was found unresponsive in her bed March 29, 2016, at Warren Barr North Shore in Highland Park, according to the lawsuit, filed in Lake County court. Cencula had contracted Elizabethkingia, a mysterious bacterial infection that was attributed to multiple deaths in Wisconsin and Michigan.

"It's not right," said Cencula's daughter Morgan Cencula. "She went in there for some physical therapy and to get a little stronger from having pneumonia and she never made it home."

Cencula's attorneys say an employee of the nursing home misread the woman's chart, which stated that all life-saving measures should be taken to resuscitate her. Cencula was not resuscitated before the employee called 911. 

"The nurse looked at it, thought she was DNR, I don't know how, so they did nothing," said Cencula's husband Art Cencula. "They did no code blue, they did no CPD, they didn't call nobody for almost an hour."

About 30 minutes later, the employee realized she misread the chart, the lawsuit claims, and Cencula was pronounced dead by the time paramedics.

The Illinois Department of Public Health investigated the death, Cencula's attorneys said, and cited and fined Warren Bar North Shore for the incident.

According to the lawsuit, "Warren Barr North Shore, LLC failed to adequately monitor Ms. Cencula's condition and maintain policies and procedures to ensure that full code patients can be easily identified and saved."

"Warren Barr North Shore maintains the highest standards of care for our patients. The death of any of our residents is cause for both sadness and concern. We wish to express our deepest condolences to the family of Kimberly Cencula on her passing. Unfortunately in a setting such as ours, we often treat very sick people with both chronic and even fatal diseases," the nursing home said in a statement. "While we cannot comment specifically regarding Kimberly’s medical condition due to privacy laws and the lawsuit her family recently filed, we can say that we respectfully disagree with all of the allegations that have been made in the lawsuit. Our nursing staff is highly competent and provides the highest level of care to all of our residents, especially to those who are at the end of their lives."

Warren Barr North Shore said it plans to defend itself "within the context of the lawsuit the family has elected to file."

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