The Prevalence of Pressure Sores—Family Sues Assisted Living Home for Negligence

In yesterday’s blog, our attorneys discussed the prevalence of pressure sores in nursing homes and assisted living residences, that often result in injury or wrongful death.

In a recent wrongful death lawsuit, the family of Frances Graham, a former 81-year old resident of an assisted living home in San Leandro, California, is suing Graham’s doctor, as well as the assisted living home, after Graham suffered from nursing home violence and devastating pressure sores all over her body, some reportedly as large as a baseballs—that lead to her tragic death. Graham’s family is also suing the nonprofit responsible for her care, the Center for Elders Independence, claiming that they put profits over her nursing home health and safety.

According to the suit, Graham was kept at the Andrew Elijah residential care home even though laws require that Alzheimer’s patients are cared for by a nursing staff that is skilled for such illnesses. Graham reportedly shared a room with a 72-year old dementia patient, who in June of last year, was found attacking Graham with a plastic hair pick. Graham suffered dozens of cuts on her body, and her left eye was bleeding and also bruised. Graham was reportedly treated by a doctor, and sent back to the Andrew Elijah home and put in a room that was private.

Graham’s son claims that soon after, Graham was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia, where a doctor discovered multiple bedsores on her body, so many that the doctors wrote in the notes that they weren’t sure that they even seen them all. The worst sore was allegedly a 4-inch hole that had eaten down to the tendons and smelled horribly. The doctor also found her to be anemic and dehydrated. Graham was moved to another health care center, and died two days later.

The Oakland Tribune states that the family tried to keep Graham at home, but after incidents where their mother started wandering, they decided to reach out for help from the Center of Elders Independence, a non-profit that has been helping to serve hundreds of elders, and thousands of seniors for eighteen years. The Center of Elders Independence recommended the Andrew Elijah Guest House for Graham, a facility that offers only basic help with daily activities like meals, dressing, housekeeping medication support, bathing and laundry—but had received an exemption to care for patients with dementia, even though their staff was only trained to handle basic needs. The owners of the facility claimed not to know about the severity of the Graham’s bedsores because the Center for Elders Independence was responsible for Graham’s medical needs.

In December of 2008, the center reportedly sent health nurses to care for Graham, as she had a total of five sores. Graham’s medical records showed four severe sores in April of 2009 that required 24-hour attention. The nurses from Nightingale Nursing claim to have reported the severity of the sores to both the Center for Elders Independence as well as Graham’s doctors.

As the Oakland Tribune stated, this is a stark reminder that the number of seniors will double over the next two decades, and as the oversight and regulation of assisted-living facilities are expanding yearly with more responsibilities, the facilities are falling behind. Eric Carlson, a National Senior Citizens Law Center Attorney claimed that the problem with assisted living centers is that facility oversight hasn’t kept up with the model, and facilities are admitting seniors with much more complex and difficult healthcare needs, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, without the proper training on how to care for them.

Our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers represent victims and their families that wish to recover personal injury compensation from a nursing home or assisted living facility who unlawfully neglected or caused harm to an elderly or sick person during their stay. Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.

Oakland Woman’s Family Sues Assisted Living Home in San Leandro, Oakland Tribune, July 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel

Maryland Department of Aging

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