When doctors told Robert Taylor he had just days to live, the Columbia-area lung cancer patient left Lexington Medical Center to go home and die in peace.
Taylor thought he would be provided pain-killing and anti-nausea drugs. But the medicine, including morphine, never arrived because of a mix-up by Compassionate Care Hospice of South Carolina, according to a lawsuit.
“Robert Taylor died scared,” said the lawsuit, which alleges he died at home after three days of “extreme pain and agony,” including hallucinations, blocked intestines and vomiting.
Elliot Ostrove, a lawyer for Compassionate Care, told The State newspaper that the company does not comment on pending litigation. But, Ostrove said, “Compassionate Care Hospice is committed to providing the highest standard of care to our patients and their families.”
In its answer to the lawsuit – filed in October 2016 by longtime girlfriend Victoria Reed, who is representing Taylor’s estate – Compassionate Care Hospice denies the allegations of negligence and says it “complied with the generally accepted standards of care” in Taylor’s case.
Attorney Peter Protopapas, who represents Reed, declined comment on the suit. He did say Taylor was 57, a University of South Carolina graduate and a longtime resident of the Columbia area, living near Irmo in Richland County.
According to documents in the Lexington County clerk of court’s office, lawyers in the case are involved in mediation that might lead to a settlement of the suit, which asks for unspecified actual and punitive damages. Typically, if the case is not settled, it goes to trial at a later date.
Reed’s lawsuit says Lexington Medical Oncology Center recommended Compassionate Care to provide “end of life care” when Taylor went home to die on Dec. 14, 2015.
“Doctors told him he likely had just days to live, and Compassionate Care was aware of his prognosis and likely timeline to death,” the lawsuit said.
Reed – Taylor’s girlfriend, according to court records – took him to her Irmo-area home. She had understood from Compassionate Care that Taylor’s medications would be delivered to her home, not to his home, the lawsuit says.
Only her home’s address was in Compassionate Care’s computer records, the lawsuit adds.
“Taylor died on Dec. 16, 2015, with no (medication) Care Kit ever being provided,” the lawsuit said. He “spent his last days extremely agitated, routinely screaming at Victoria as she cared for him, and in extreme pain. ... (M)edications in the Care Kit would have relieved this.”
Although Reed complained to Compassionate Care employees that Taylor hadn’t received his medicine, it was not delivered, the lawsuit alleges. “As Robert lay dying, all Victoria could do was sit by, clean him repeatedly and listen to his screams and hallucinations.”
The day before Taylor died, his medicine was delivered to the wrong address – his home several miles away – and left on the front steps, the lawsuit says. And, it adds, Compassionate Care “falsified” its records so that erroneous delivery did not show up.
“Compassionate Care’s records ... paint a picture of perfect treatment and of a happily medicated man dying peacefully at home,” the lawsuit says.