Family claims understaffing at West Hills Hospital resulted in inadequate care for son

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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Family sues West Hills Hospital over understaffing, inadequate care
The family of an man claims understaffing at West Hills Hospital led to inadequate care for their son who was diagnosed with pancreatitis and sepsis.

WEST HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The daily routine for Josh Saeta and his family looks much different now - he's paralyzed and incapacitated over what his family calls a "major event that never should have taken place."

Saeta was an Emmy-nominated visual effects supervisor and compositor who worked on some major films, including "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Matrix Revolutions" and others.

The family said their lives changed in 2017 after he went to West Hills Hospital with abdominal pain.

"He was clearly in distress. His stomach was exaggerated. He was in total pain," said his father, Steven Saeta.

"Well, we're in a hospital, they know what they're doing, they're telling us he's not critical, so ok, he's in a lot of pain," recalled his sister, Jennifer Saeta. She said she went home that night.

As it turns out, Josh was suffering from pancreatitis. Hours later, the family says he went into cardiac arrest. That's when Jennifer rushed to the hospital to see him.

"I was just shocked and he was laying on a gurney, his body was, like, twice the size, his mouth was, like, taped shut, there were nurses surrounding him," said Jennifer.

In a lawsuit, the family alleges Josh's condition worsened and became critical because the hospital didn't have enough nursing and support staff.

"They have decided to slash staff costs to a point that is unheard of in hospitals," said attorney Deborah Chang.

Southern California nurses have protested at several hospitals, complaining of staffing issues. In this case, the attorney said Josh's monitor was turned off.

"It's on the record: alarm off," said Chang. "With monitoring is what they need. They can reverse any cardiac arrest because they can check the heart rhythm."

The hospital is a part of HCA Healthcare.

In a statement, they told Eyewitness News in part, "West Hills Hospital will vigorously defend the care provided in this case. Our top priority remains the safety of our patients and colleagues and West Hills Hospital is proud of our long-standing track record for delivering high-quality care."

Chang said she recently filed a new lawsuit and is now going to serve HCA Corporation and West Hills Hospital. They hope to be in court by June.