Bed Sores

Big jury verdicts against nursing homes are more important than you think – here’s why

Mr. Sharon had eleven different infections. His arms and legs had been in traction so long that he is now paralyzed. He was frequently soiled, and his wounds went untreated.

According to the attorneys who represented the nursing home patient and his family,

“ … Repeated instances of abuse and neglect at the nursing home led to the development of bedsores so severe and deep that at least one was infected down to his bone.

Abuse like this can’t be attributed to one bad nurse. Injuries like these can’t be blamed on overworked aides.

These are problems that start at the top. There are systemic failures in any medical facility in which these injuries could happen.

Mr. Sharon was a patient in a for-profit Colorado nursing home. For-profit chains of nursing homes use fewer resources on patient care: they have fewer nurses, higher costs, and more profits.

How do you punish a corporation?

The jury that heard this case had to decide.

You can’t send it to prison. The only things you can take away from it are it’s reputation, which is hard to quantify— or money.

In Mr. Sharon’s case, the jury awarded 3.3 million dollars.

Sound like a lot of money?

There’s actually a limit of $300,000 for non-economic damages under Colorado law. The jury thought that amount would barely put a dent in the company’s bottom line – so they included $3 million in punitive damages.

This was the jury’s way of sending a message to the nursing home—Belmont Lodge Health Care Center and its parent corporation— and to other for-profit facilities.

A trial by jury is one of the most democratic tenants in our imperfect justice system.

It is utterly essential that everyone have access to courts and lawyers exactly for situations like this. Elder care facilities that victimize or neglect the patients who depend on them for care must be held accountable.

Jury verdicts like this one are they only way they’ll get the message.

 

Seattle-Based Emeritus Walloped With $23 Million Verdict

The Sacramento Bee reported that just last week, a Sacramento jury found Emeritus Corp. guilty of wrongful death and elder abuse on Tuesday in relation to its care of a former resident who died shortly after leaving an Emeritus-run senior living community in California.

Emeritus, based in Seattle, Washington is the largest assisted living facility in the U.S.

Emeritus, largest US assisted living facility corp.

Emeritus, largest US provider of assisted living facilities

The Boice family brought a lawsuit against Emeritus for the abuse and death of Joan Boice, 82.  Ms. Boice, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, had passed away three months after moving into a nursing home in 2008. She had resided at Emeritus at Emerald Hills in Auburn, CA.

Within months, she was found with at least four major pressure ulcers, which were believed to have been a significant factor in causing her death. By day 10 of her stay at the Emeritus facility, Joan had fallen down and was never able to get out of her wheelchair after her fall.

Late last year, Emeritus offered a $3.5 million settlement to the son and daughter of Ms. Boice. But Eric Boice wanted others to know his mother’s story of the elder abuse and neglect: so, the Boices went to trial.

The jury on the case voted unanimously against the company on 12 out of 15 questions on the two jury forms, including voting 12-0 that Emeritus employees failed to use reasonable care in providing for Boice’s hygienic, mental health, and safety needs.

The jurors also unanimously voted that this failure resulted in substantial harm to Boice, and that Emeritus’ officers and directors knew “about the unfitness of their employees and [acted] with conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others.”

Finally, the jurors voted 12-0 that Boices proved “that an employee, officer, director, or a managing agent acted with recklessness, malice, oppression, and fraud.”

Counsel for Emeritus vowed to appeal. This story tells us that no matter the size of the facility, if you have a loved one in assisted care, please remain vigilant.

See more:  Life and Death in Assisted Living

Son Faces Elder Abuse & Drug Charges

According to an AP report, Alfonso Patrick Moya, Jr. faces abuse and drug charges related to the death of his 72-year old father. Apparently, Mr. Moya was selling his father’s pain medication. Mr. Moya was his father, Alfonso Patricio Moya Sr.’s primary caregiver. MedsElderAbuse.jpg

The day after being admitted to a Veterans Administration hospital, Moya Sr., died from dehydration, malnutrition, and bedsores that resulted from neglect. Police claim that Moya Jr. had been filling his father’s monthly Lortab prescriptions and sold them.

According to hospital officials’ reports to the Salt Lake Tribune, the eldery Moya’s bed sores were so severe that one bed sore was the size of a fist. That sore would have required surgery as well as an open sore on one of his feet. His feet and ankles were swollen to twice their normal size. As recently as December 2010, doctors claimed that Moya Sr. was able to walk and speak.

When police entered Moya Jr’s house, they said that they were overwhelmed with a “very strong odor” of bleach, feces, and decomposing tisue. Despite the fact that the bedding had been disposed of or in the laundry, the mattress where Moya Sr had been lying was “saturated with urine and feces”

Moya Jr. admitted that his father hadn’t been bathed for at least two weeks, but blamed his estranged wife for not cleaning off the fecal matter before calling 911.

More on Pressure Sores

The Nursing Home industry continues to claim that some pressure sores or pressure ulcers are unavoidable.  But, it is important to point out that they can not specifically point out which of these sores are unavoidable.  While it may be argued that some patients are vulnerable to developing sores, I believe that it simply can not be argued that pressure sores should be allowed to develop to an extent that results in serious consequences for the patient. 

So often, we see patients who develop pressure sores that result in serious health conditions and sometimes death.  

iStock_000013955070XSmall.jpgWhy is this allowed to happen?  Why are these patients caregivers not providing the type of care and treatment that these patients are entitled to receive.  Most often, it is because these patients are neglected.  Don’t put up with this neglect.  

 

 

 

 

Report pressure sores that are allowed to go “unchecked”

 

 

Pressure/Bed Sores – new article

If al loved one has suffered a pressure sore or bed sore, have the situation looked at with care. Especially if the sore has resulted in serious consequences.  I firmly believe that the sores can be and should be prevented, but, a recent report speaks specifically to the issue and provides information that is of some value.

Regardless, always review the circumstances related to the development of any pressure/bed sores.

Pressure/Bed Sores

Pressure sores or bed sores, as they are commonly called, should not happen.  These sores cause great pain, a loss of dignity, infections and often times result in the death of an elder loved one. The elderly and those with spinal cord injuries are most susceptible to pressure sores. These sores are the result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear and friction.  The sores develop often as a result of the failure to move patients’ body positioning or as a result of the failure to provide an adequate bed.  

iStock_000004738489XSmall.jpgPressure sores can be prevented by keeping a patient’s skin clean and dry, changing a patients position and using pillows and products that relieve pressure upon the skin.

Pressure sores are very difficult to treat.  Taking the necessary steps to prevent the development of the pressure sores is one of the keys to providing the proper quality of life and care to which patients are entitled.

 

 

Watch for signs of pressure sores developing.  Talk with your elder loved ones about how they are being treated and how they are feeling.  You want to avoid the development of pressure sores.

About Kevin

Kevin Coluccio was recently named one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. He has long history of successful elder abuse/neglect cases and has a stellar reputation for getting results for his injury clients in serious car crashes, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, maritime claims, and asbestos injury cases.