An elderly male patient was admitted to a local hospital in severe respiratory distress and was intubated. When his condition began to stabilize several days later, he was transferred from the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) to an orthopedic floor. The next day, he fell and sustained a left hip fracture, which required surgical repair.
He was later fitted with a brace that immobilized his left leg, and he was transferred to a nearby nursing home for rehabilitation. While at the nursing home, he developed severe pressure ulcers (bed sores, bedsores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) over his lower back (sacrum), left heel, and left calf. The pressure ulcers (bed sores, bedsores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) did not improve and became infected, and the patient died two months later of sepsis (systemic infection). On the family's behalf, we filed claims against the hospital and the nursing home.
We claimed the hospital was negligent because it failed to recognize the patient was a high fall risk and failed to take fall prevention measures that included more vigilant supervision, a bed alarm to alert staff if he attempted to rise from bed unassisted, a low/lowered bed, and a fall mat at bedside. With respect to the sacral and heel pressure ulcers (bed sores, bedsores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers), we claimed the nursing home was negligent because it failed to turn and reposition the patient consistently every two hours and more often as necessary while he was in bed and failed to ensure his heels were appropriately off-loaded at all times, either by floating his heels or by using heel suspension devices. With respect to the left calf pressure ulcer (bed sore, bedsore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer), we claimed the nursing home failed to eliminate or relieve pressure around the leg brace which resulted in friction and shear that caused the pressure ulcer (bed sore, bedsore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer).
The case settled approximately one month before trial in the mid six figures.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia
Posted on Tue, December 16, 2008
by Robert Carter