Nursing Home Charged with Resident Neglect—Pressure Sores Lead to Wrongful Death

As Washington D.C.-area Nursing Home Injury Attorneys, we have been following a case that has recently gone to trial accusing an Arizona-based nursing home of neglect, failure to prevent pressure sores, and wrongful death.

Irma Smith, 98, was a resident of Devon Gables Healthcare Center, and according to the lawsuit, when Smith died on September 7, 2006, she was experiencing unnecessary pain from a pressure sore on her backside that had grown so large that it was one inch deep and as wide as a grapefruit. The sore had reportedly eaten through both her bone and muscle and became infected, which lead to sepsis and allegedly caused Smith’s death.

Kathleen Havens, Smith’s daughter, and also a resident nurse, is bringing the wrongful death lawsuit against Devon Gables, and claimed that the nursing home had been making cutbacks in staffing, which lead to the nursing home negligence. In one incident, after being left unattended, Smith reportedly fell out of her wheelchair onto her face, suffering from head, leg and arm wounds.

Smith was admitted to Devon Gables in July of 2006, because Havens was having difficulty lifting and caring for her mother. Smith was a resident of the nursing home until the wheelchair fall, in which she was transferred to Tucson Medical Center. The pressure sore was so severely infected that Smith reportedly developed sepsis and died ten days later.

Smith’s daughter claims in the case that Smith did not receive the proper care that she needed while a resident in the nursing home. Havens claims in the suit that Smith should have been turned and repositioned frequently, to prevent or minimize the chance of pressure sores, and the spread of the infection on existing sores.

The attorney for Devon Gables argued that Smith was in the process of dying while she was at the nursing home, which is why the pressure sores became more severe, and that Smith was already failing to survive, and suffered from persistent bruising and wounds that wouldn’t heal.

Havens claimed that Smith could have lived until 110, as prior to her death, she was very alert, doing crossword puzzles, and even attended her grandson’s wedding. Gables claimed that there is a difference between dying from natural causes, and dying from a massive pressure sore that caused extraordinary pain, and a deadly infection.

If a Maryland nursing home fails to protect residents from developing pressure sores that can result in injury or death, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence or wrongful death. Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent Maryland victims and their families who wish to recover personal injury compensation from nursing home negligence and harm. Contact us today.

Death a Result of Neglect at Devon Gables, Lawsuit Claims, Arizona Daily Star, April 15, 2010

Related Web Resources:

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Pressure Ulcer Research

The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging: Pressure Sores

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Osteomyelitis
NCHS Data Brief: Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States 2004

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