Partial Quadriplegic Patient Transferred Improperly, Suffers Multiple Pressure Ulcers; Facility Settles

In October 2012, a 50-year old C6 partial quadriplegic male patient was admitted into the hospital for rotator cuff surgery. As a partial quadriplegic, he has no strength in his legs and limited mobility with his arms and hands. After the surgery, the hospital transferred him to a facility for rehabilitation. The patient required safe transfers and pressure ulcer prevention because of his limited mobility. Upon admission to the rehab center, the patient had no pressure ulcers.

Several days later, the nurses improperly transferred the patient using the Hoyer lift. When removing the sling under his buttocks, they caused shearing injuries and skin tears on his sacrum and left hip. Medical records show documentation of the tears on his buttocks, which they called an “abrasion”, but did not document his left hip injury until over a week later. It took two weeks for the staff at the rehab facility to provide the patient with a Roho pressure-reducing cushion.

By that time, the ulcer was already classified as stage III and a nurse noted that the wound presented an odor. The patient was also sweating and shaking which is an early sign of infection. At the time he received the Roho cushion for his chair, the nurses noticed his wound had black eschar present along with the odor documented before. His doctor confirmed his ulcers were caused by pressure. The following week, the patient had two stage III ulcers to his sacrum.

His left ischial ulcer, however, deteriorated. The left hip ulcer exuded foul-smelling drainage and deepened. The rehab center referred him to the wound clinic for treatment where he required pulse lavage therapy and antibiotics for the infection. The wound clinic documented he suffered from protein malnutrition as well

After an MRI was done, the radiologist’s findings showed he had osteomyelitis. Unfortunately, the patient required a wound vac, but was unable to use it because of the osteomyelitis. He was referred to another medical center for evaluation for IV antibiotics, a surgical consult, and possible hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

In March 2013, the patient was discharged from the rehabilitation center and received home health care. His treatment for the left ischial pressure ulcer continues.

The patient’s family contacted us to pursue claims against the rehabilitation center and its owners and operators. We were able to obtain a settlement award for the patient.

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