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Nursing Home Negligence: A Case Study

A recent Hyatt & Weber client, a disabled woman in her 50s, was admitted to the hospital for increased weakness and decreased level of functioning. She was later transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. In her medical chart, it was clearly expressed that she needed to receive special care and attention due to her health condition.

Because of the state of her health, our client needed assistance moving, turning over, and other basic physical functions. The medical records also documented she was at high risk to develop pressure ulcers To avoid the ulcers, the care plan and physician orders stated that the nurses should have performed weekly skin assessments and document the changes. The plan also indicated that she needed to be repositioned regularly so that there would be no extensive pressure or blood loss to any part of her body.

Evidence

Sadly, the poor documentation and inability to follow the care plan led to the client developing an unstageable, odorous pressure ulcer on her sacrum, a triangular bone that sits between the two hipbones of the pelvis. An unstageable pressure ulcer is one that envelops the full thickness of the skin tissue and the wound is covered by a thick, yellow layer of slough making it hard to determine the true depth. The pressure ulcer was so severe, she developed sepsis and lost much of her ability to walk. Several surgeries were required—surgeries that could have easily been avoided with the proper care.

Upon investigation, the nursing home’s negligence was impossible to miss. Records showed that she spent significant time in a wheelchair around the nursing home, and there was no effort of thenursing home staff documented to reposition her or to reduce the pressure on the sacrum by offloadinbg through the use of cushions and a specialty mattress. Additionally, there was no account of any skin breakdown or symptoms of a potential pressure ulcer until it was too late. In fact, nursing assessments and notes stated that the skin was intact and there were no problems within hours of transfer for surgery.

Settlement

Armed with the clear evidence of neglect, the medical malpractice team at Hyatt & Weber was able to successfully advocate for our client’s right to quality nursing home care. The case was settled out of court in the amount of $535,000.

Do not let nursing homes mistreat your love ones. In their final years of life, they deserve the best care that can be offered. If your loved one is being neglected in a nursing home and you’re ready to take legal action, call Hyatt & Weber at (410) 384-4316.

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