Pressure Sores Lead to Wrongful Death—Nursing Homes Settles Suit with Family

In recent national news that our Maryland-based Nursing Home Attorneys have been following, two nursing homes have settled in a wrongful death lawsuit, after the family of a resident sued the homes for not providing adequate care, and acting with nursing home negligence.

In the lawsuit, the family members of Ralph Seewald claimed that both Riverside Health Care Center and Village Health Care Center failed to provide proper care for the late-87-year old resident during his stay at the homes before his death in November 2005.

According to the suit, Seewald entered the Riverside Health Care Center in December 2004, with slight symptoms of dementia, and the plan for his care required two nursing home attendants to use a safety gain belt to assist him with all lifting and transfers to and from the wheelchair. Seewald was reportedly often transferred from the wheelchair by only one attendant with no gain belt, which reportedly lead to numerous falls.

Seewald allegedly suffered a fall while being transferred by only one attendant without a gain belt, from his wheelchair to the toilet on May 23, 2005, and broke his neck—leaving him bound to his bed. While immobile and bedridden, he developed serious decubitus ulcers, or pressure sores, that progressed rapidly during a few months, and led to a case of gangrene in his leg that allegedly caused his wrongful death.

The lawsuit charged that both the accident while transferring Seewald from his wheelchair and the inadequate treatment of his bedsores were caused by nursing home negligence, and that Seewald should have been provided with the quality of care that he was legally entitled to as a resident of the home.

The lawsuit also alleged that Seewald’s family was never alerted about the bedsores and Seewald’s deteriorating health condition, and that the nursing home covered up the pressure sores from the family members who were making the decisions for him at the time. After Seewald was admitted to the hospital to have a neck operation, the doctors discovered that the bedsores had progressed to such an advanced state that had developed a blood infection, gangrene, and that he would require a leg amputation. He was admitted to a hospice and reportedly died less than a month later.

After the death of Seewald, a nurse at Village Health Care Center confessed that she was told to take the man’s medical records and fix them to make his level of care look more consistent that it was, especially regarding the changing of the dressings on the pressure sores.

The family sought relief for negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, deceit, fraud, and others. The family also sought compensation through the suit for suffering and pain, grief, medical and funeral expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of companionship and other damages, as well as punitive damages.

If a Maryland nursing home resident becomes injured or dies because the nursing home neglected to protect the health and safety of the resident, 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 victims and their families who wish to recover personal injury compensation from nursing home negligence and harm. Contact us today.

Nursing Homes, Family Settle Wrongful Death Suit, Great Falls Tribune, March 1, 2010
Family Settles Suit Against Nursing Homes, Billing Gazette, February 28, 2010
Quality of Care at Issue in Case, Billings Gazette, February 20, 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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