Failure to Treat Bed Sores Leads to Nursing Home Death

A Tennessee jury recently awarded the surviving heirs and estate of a deceased 83 year old woman nearly $30 million in a nursing home neglect case.  $28 million of the award was assessed as punitive damages against the nursing home. 

The deceased suffered a stroke and became partially paralyzed on one side of her body, requiring assistance from nursing home staff at the rehabilitation center at which she was residing.  During the summer, the staff identified stage IV pressure ulcers/bed sores on her right foot.  Bed sores/pressure ulcers are generally graded on a scale of I-IV, a scale that describes the level of injury to the skin and underlying tissue. 

Stage I ulcers are not open wounds.  The skin is generally painful but has no breaks or tears.  The skin appears reddened but does not blanch or lose color when you press on it. 

Stage II ulcers occur when the skin breaks open or forms an uclerated area.  The sore expands in the deeper layers of the skin.  Often times it resembles a blister. 

Stage III ulcers extend into the tissue beneath the skin, forming a crater.  Fat may show in the sore but not muscle, tendon or bone.

Stage IV ulcers are very deep, reaching into the muscle and bone and causing extensive damage to bone, tissues, tendsons and joints.

In this case, the necessary treatment was never provided to the deceased and she developed sepsis.  Her right leg required an above the knee amputation and she died about 4 months after the surgery.  Her estate sued the nursing home alleging negligence and violations of Tennessee's Adult Protection Act. 

At STSW, our attorneys have successfully handled a number of nursing home neglect cases resulting in death or serious injury in the Mid-Atlantic region.  If you or a loved one have been so injured, please call our team at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation.