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FATAL PRESSURE SORES IN NURSING HOME RESULT IN $850,000 SETTLEMENT. NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE – WRONGFUL DEATH ACTION – DECUBITUS ULCERS – HOSPITAL, NURSING HOMES SUED – $890,000 SETTLEMENT

Type of action: Hospital/nursing home negligence

Injuries alleged: Wrongful death

Name of case: Confidential

Court/county: Confidential

Case no.: Confidential

Tried before: Mediation

Name of judge: Confidential

Special damages: Medical, burial and funeral

Verdict/settlement: Settled

Amount: $890,000

Date obtained: Summer 2005

Demand: n/a

Offer: n/a

Experts: Jonathan Arden, M.D., McLean VA, pathology; Patricia Brock, RN, Orange City FL, CVSU nursing; Ruth Bryant, RN, Roseville MN, wound care; Sherie Kemp-Bruce, RN, Wake Forest NC, nursing home nursing

Insurer: None

Plaintiff’s attorneys: Steve Gugenheim, Raleigh

Person submitting: Steve Gugenheim

Description: On April 20, 2001, patient, a 78-year-old African-American woman with a medical history of PVD, hypertension, and diabetes, was admitted to Hospital with chest pain. Several days later, patient had a CABG procedure and was transferred to the CVSU Unit of the Hospital. Five days post-surgery, patient developed a sacral pressure ulcer.

The sacral pressure ulcer worsened. By the time of patient’s discharge from the Hospital on June 12, 2001, the sacral pressure ulcer had been surgically debrided and was a Stage IV. After discharge from the Hospital, patient was admitted to Nursing Home 1.

Patient remained a resident of Nursing Home 1 until Oct. 10, 2001. At that time, patient was admitted to Hospital for wound care to the sacral ulcer. During the time period that patient was a resident of Nursing Home 1, patient was hospitalized at Hospital for various surgical procedures, including a below-knee amputation, related to patient’s PVD.

During patient’s hospitalization at Hospital in Oct. 2001, patient developed a Stage I right hip decubitus ulcer. On Nov. 2, 2001, patient was admitted to Nursing Home 2. On Nov. 28, 2002, patient was re-admitted to the Hospital because the sacral pressure ulcer and the right hip ulcer had severely worsened. At that time, both the sacral and right hip ulcers were Stage IV.

Patient remained hospitalized until Jan. 30, 2002 for treatment to the sacral and right hip decubitus ulcers. Patient was then admitted to Nursing Home 3. By that time, patient’s physicians had determined that there was nothing medically that could have been done to heal patient’s sacral and right hip decubitus ulcers. On April 2, 2002, patient was re-admitted to Hospital with infected sacral and right-hip ulcers and a diagnosis of sepsis. On April 4, 2002, patient died.

Patient was survived by a spouse of over 50 years, one adult son and one granddaughter.

Patient sued Hospital and Nursing Homes 1 and 2. Patient alleged that Hospital staff failed to implement appropriate measures to prevent the development of the sacral pressure ulcer. Patient also alleged that Hospital staff failed to properly follow physician’s orders, failed to properly transfer physician’s orders to the medication administration record, and failed to properly treat the sacral pressure ulcer.

Patient alleged that Nursing Home 1 failed to properly implement measures to prevent the sacral pressure ulcer from worsening. Patient alleged that Nursing Home 2 failed to follow physician’s orders relating to the treatment of the sacral and right-hip ulcers and failed to treat in any way the right-hip ulcer during the time period that the patient was a resident of Nursing Home 2.

The case was mediated in May 2005. During mediation, patient settled with the Hospital. Post-mediation, discussions continued with Nursing Homes 1 and 2. In July 2005, Patient settled with Nursing Homes 1 and 2.

Plaintiff’s counsel believes, based upon a review of published settlements in Lawyer’s Weekly, that this is the largest settlement in North Carolina for a decubitus ulcer case.

© 2005 Lawyers Weekly Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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