A Colorado jury ruled for the family of a man who died due to complications from bedsores. The family of Henry Frazier sued the nursing home where the man lived, alleging that staff members’ neglect caused Frazier to develop the bed sores, and that the nursing home failed to notify the family of his condition. The jury awarded the family $3.2 million for Frazier’s wrongful death.
Frazier first entered Pioneer Healthcare Center in Rocky Ford, Colorado in May 2009. For a time, he reportedly worked as a janitor at the center, although he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and had difficulties with mobility. His family, including his wife and adult children, visited him often, with his wife spending two to four hours a day with him. Despite this, the family was not made aware of the injury that would take Frazier’s life until it was too late.
The bedsores began to develop in September 2010, when he was no longer able to move about the facility. Frazier stopped eating or drinking. Confined to his bed, he became “unresponsive.” By early October, Frazier had reportedly developed severe bedsores on his buttocks and scrotum, according to a nurse’s aide who gave this information to Frazier’s son. The nurse’s aide said that he was concerned that he might lose his job for speaking out, but he was also afraid for Frazier’s life. The bedsores had become infected and gave off a foul odor.
Frazier’s son reportedly demanded to take him to the hospital, but met with protests from nursing home administrators, who wanted to treat him at the nursing home. Once Frazier finally made it to the hospital, doctors diagnosed him with sepsis, dehydration, and malnutrition. The bedsore, described as being the size of a baseball, was infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection that is very difficult to treat. The hospital designated the bedsore as a “Stage IV wound,” a level of severity that one doctor compared to “amputating the wrong leg.” Frazier, who was 88 years old, died at the hospital. Doctors said the bedsores caused his death.
The family sued Pioneer Healthcare Center and its parent company, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Grace Healthcare. While the family pursued the lawsuit, Colorado’s Health Department conducted an inspection of the nursing home and cited it for twenty-seven infractions. Inspectors reportedly found “widescale infections” among the nursing home’s deficiencies.
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, result from continual pressure on the skin in an area over a bony structure like an elbow, hip, or ankle. Symptoms worsen with greater exposure, beginning with red, irritated skin, and proceeding to blisters and open sores. The most severe bedsores can cause damage to muscles, bones, and joints. They also expose the patient to serious risk of infection. Age can make a person more vulnerable to bedsores, and conditions like malnutrition compound the vulnerability. Nursing homes are supposed to turn patients confined to their beds on a regular basis to prevent bedsores.
Nursing homes have a duty to provide diligent care and a safe environment for their residents. The Maryland nursing home lawyers at Lebowitz and Mzhen help obtain compensation for people injured due to abuse or neglect by nursing home staff. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Another Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit for Madison County Home, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, August 25, 2011
Detecting and Preventing the Four Stages of Bedsores, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, July 26, 2011
Hospital to Pay $5.4M in Bedsore Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, July 19, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Rocky Ford, CO, welcome sign IMG 5652’ by Billy Hathorn (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.