Lawsuit: Oxygen provider's negligence caused death

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A Verona man filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Apria Healthcare alleging that his mother died because the company failed to provide her with oxygen she used to treat lung cancer.

Raymond G. Anthony filed the complaint in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court alleging claims of negligence and wrongful death.

He asserts that his mother, Marlene F. Anthony, who was 57, died at her Wilkinsburg home because Apria, a California company with an office in Canonsburg, refused to deliver oxygen on a Sunday, and instead instructed her to use an emergency tank.

Marlene Anthony was using a continuous regimen of oxygen at home and was receiving hospice care for advance stage lung cancer, said attorney Douglas Price.

Mr. Anthony alleges in the complaint that on Friday, April 20, his brother, Devon Anthony, called Apria to report that his mother's oxygen supply was getting low.

A dispatcher responded, and later that day, an employee delivered three oxygen tanks, which the complaint said was enough for two days.

On Sunday, April 22, Devon Anthony again called Apria to say his mother's tanks were running low. A dispatcher said the company would call back. After two hours with no response, he called again, reporting that it was "urgent." Still no one called.

After a third message another hour later, a dispatcher called Devon Anthony back at 4:09 p.m. and reported that there were no deliveries on Sunday. He was told the oxygen his mother had should last until 2 a.m. the next day.

"At that time, Marlene should switch to an emergency tank which should last two to three days, but someone would deliver oxygen Monday morning," the complaint said.

Devon Anthony went to work that evening and left instructions with his uncle how to care for his mother, the lawsuit said.

The uncle switched to the emergency tank at 2 a.m., and three times overnight at 2:39, 4:43 and 5:09 a.m., Marlene Anthony texted her son, Raymond, to assure him everything was fine.

The uncle and aunt continued to check on the woman in the morning, and she was fine. But at 10:40 a.m., they found that she wasn't breathing.

She was pronounced dead, and the complaint said that Marlene Anthony died from oxygen deprivation.

At 4 p.m. that day, an Apria representative called asking to pick up their equipment.

"My client felt when they called for their equipment, they weren't expressing any kind of concern for Mrs. Anthony and what happened to her," Mr. Price said.

A spokeswoman for Apria said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

neigh_east

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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