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Jury Rules in Favor of Skilled Nursing Facility in Pressure Sore Death Case

While it is becoming more common these days to hear reports of nursing home negligence and abuse, many facilities never receive the justice they truly deserve for systemic understaffing and policies that prioritize profits before human life. It is important to understand that cases falling under the realm of medical malpractice are very difficult to win due to the many protections put in place for healthcare providers to defend against frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, it is these very protections that may prevent victims with legitimate claims from receiving the compensation they deserve.

Family of Deceased Patient Loses Legal Battle against Negligent Nursing Home

An 84 year old man’s family brought a lawsuit against Kindred Healthcare and Greenbriar Terrace, located in the city of Nashua, New Hampshire after he died due to complications later linked to the worsening of multiple bedsores. His family argued that there was no excuse for the delayed discovery of the sores and that caregivers failed to provide adequate treatment and preventative care.

It is not uncommon for bedsores to develop in patients with limited mobility because of the pressure placed on the body’s joint during prolonged periods of inactivity. These injuries are highly preventable, however, and it takes an extremely long time for them to progress to such a state that related complications would threaten a patient’s life. The measures commonly taken to prevent and treat pressure ulcers involve simply moving the patient every two to three hours so that circulation is restored to the joints and extremities, treating the wounds to reverse their progression and administering antibiotics to treat the potential spread of bacteria.

Prior Medical History Cited in Defense

While the defense solidified its case by referring to injuries the victim suffered prior to being admitted to the center, it should be the responsibility of any nursing home to review patients’ medical conditions, risk factors and special needs. Personalized plans need to be created for every patient that include accommodations for risks and conditions. In the case of Byam Whitney, these risk factors and conditions included dementia and injuries sustained in a fall prior to being admitted.

Records indicated that the caregivers at Kindred Healthcare did take measures to attempt to treat Whitney’s wounds, but his family alleged that the wounds were not discovered until it was far too late. In the first two stages, the pain from bedsores can be manageable and the sores can be treated rather efficiently with attentive care. Whitney’s wounds progressed to the point of tissue death and became open wounds that bled, however, and he went into septic shock because bacteria were able to enter his body through those wounds.

Controversial Verdict in Favor of Nursing Home

After about two hours of debate, a jury exonerated the nursing facility of any liability in Whitney’s death, arguing that the conditions resulting in his death existed prior to his arrival. Regardless of what people feel about the verdict, it is important to ask why a patient with an elevated risk of developing bedsores was not monitored more closely. In order for pressure ulcer to progress as they did, staff wouldn’t have noticed them at all for a significant period of time, begging the question of whether the home was equipped with an adequate staff.

The staff members tending to Whitney did ultimately work valiantly to reverse the impact of his pressure ulcers once they were discovered, but had he been under greater supervision to begin with, the sores may never have progressed to the point they did. Their efforts along with the testimony of medical experts on behalf of the defense were the likely reasons for the jury’s ruling. Witnesses testified that following the discovery of the sores, the staff remained in contact with physicians in order to receive guidance and implemented the use of a cushioned wheelchair, airflow mattress and other devices designed to relieve pressure on the joints.

Nursing Home Law Center LLC recognizes the difficulty in pursuing lawsuits against medical institutions and the need clients have for experienced litigators who have specialized experience. This is why our Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect law team is made up of attorneys who have seen past success handling nursing law cases.

We believe that everyone in need of quality legal services should have access to the top Chicago nursing injury lawyers around. This is why we work on a contingency basis and promise not to accept legal fees unless we are able to recover compensation on our clients’ behalves. If we fail to negotiate a settlement or win a judgement in your favor, our services are absolutely free of charge.

For laws related to New Hampshire nursing homes, look here.

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