Nursing Home Victim’s Family Hopes Wrongful Death Settlement Will Help to Educate Others

In a blog from last week, our Prince George’s nursing home injury attorneys reported on a wrongful death lawsuit, where Cynthia Wilms, a rehabilitation patient died in a nursing and rehabilitation facility from an infection that the lawsuit alleged was due to negligence and chronic understaffing.

In a new article published this week by the Capital Times, the newspaper interviewed Cynthia Wilms’ family, who told their own story of the nursing home abuse and neglect that allegedly lead to Wilms’ wrongful death.

Wilms was 72 when she was admitted to The Willows Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on July 30, 2007 to recover from hip replacement surgery. Wilms’ family claimed that although the surgery went very well, Wilms developed a staph infection at the site of the surgical wound, after being transferred to the facility. While staying at Willows, Wilms’ infection reportedly went untreated, and no important measures were taken to stop the infection. Wilms died from sepsis less than two months later, on September 13, 2007.

Phillip Wilms claimed that his wife’s health problems started the moment she arrived at the facility—her wheelchair was too small and didn’t function properly, the mattress on Wilms’ bed was too long, creating a uncomfortable “hammock” effect, and the wheels on her bed were broken, along with the bed’s ability to go up and down. The wheels on the table by the bed were also not functioning properly, and were reportedly caked with dust, dirt and hair. The were no phones in the room, and only way patients could communicate for help was to press the call button, although Phillip Wilms claimed it would take staff at least an hour to respond to any pleas for help.

Phillip Wilms claimed that his wife was treated with negligence, as she was not routinely not bathed, fed or helped to the bathroom, and after complaining about needing more bathroom assistance, she was given an unnecessary catheter. Nurses reportedly regularly asked Wilms to help re-tape dirty bandages without even cleaning the wound. After the surgical wound became infected, Wilms’ husband tried to get the staff to respond, but with limited success.

The couple reportedly chose the facilities at Willow because of their physical therapy reputation, but what they didn’t know was that the facility also had a record of nursing home violations and abuse, with serious fines. During the 29 days that Wilms was a patient there, the facility reportedly neglected to meet even its own monthly minimum staffing goals of 80 percent. After Wilms’ death, the home was listed as one of the 54 worst homes in the country.

Extendicare, the large company that runs the Wisconsin nursing facility, will pay over $2.25 million to Wilms’ family to settle the lawsuit. But Phillip Wilms claimed in the interview that he filed the lawsuit to make sure that people in nursing homes received better care and were not subject to the kind of negligence that led to his wife’s death.

Our Baltimore nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC support the rights for Maryland residents to experience a nursing home or rehabilitation facility environment that is filled with quality care that improves and maintains the quality of their physical health, and is free from negligence that could result in injury or wrongful death. Contact us today.

Nursing Home Pays Wrongful Death Suit; Victim’s Family Hopes to Educate Others, The Capital Times, September 27, 2010
$2.25 Million Settlement Reached in Nursing Home Lawsuit, Channel 3000.com, September 21, 2010
Nursing Home Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Chicago Tribune, September 22, 2010

Related Web Resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

Maryland Department of Aging

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