Nursing Home Neglect and Medical Malpractice Alleged in Wrongful Death Case Involving the Development and Advancement of Decubitus Ulcers During Admission to Nursing Home and Hospital

By Nursing Home Law Center

Philadelphia jurors have spoken in a case involving the development of decubitus ulcers during a hospitalization and deterioration during a subsequent stay at a nursing home. Not only did they speak up, but the jurors stood up in a loud way, slapping $5 million in punitive damages on top of a $1 million compensatory award against the Jeanes Hospital and Hillcrest Convalescent Home (Pennsylvania).

Wrongful Death

Significant Damages

In the case believed to be the first of its kind decided by a Philadelphia jury, the punitive damages were allocated: $1.5 million against the hospital and $3.5 million against the nursing home.

According to the lawyer for the man’s family, Steven R. Maher, Jeans Hospital failed to diagnose the man’s urinary tract infection that contributed to the development of bed sores (also referred to as: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) and then the man was transferred to Hillcrest Nursing Home where the bed sores worsened. After a courageous battle attempting to heal the decubitus ulcers at home for more than two years, the man succumbed to complications related to the decubitus ulcers.

Jeanes Hospital is part of the Temple University Health System and Hillcrest is owned by Genesis HealthCare Corporation, a large nursing home operator in the Northeast.

Distinction Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Unlike compensatory damages that are intended to compensate an injured party for their loss, punitive damages are only awarded in situations where a court determines the conduct to be outrageously negligent or reckless. In cases involving decubitus ulcers, punitive damages may be appropriate when staff repeatedly fail to tend to their duties over extended periods. No doubt that the plaintiff’s lawyers were persuasive, but my guess is that the testimony and photographs (if any) really incited feelings of rage.

Additionally, this case is important because too often we see different medical facilities point their fingers at the other facility. Here we see that even when a patient arrives at a nursing home in a less that ideal condition, facilities still have an obligation to provide the patient with quality care to prevent further deterioration.

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