Death Secondary to Nursing Home Bed Sores / Pressure Sores / Decubitus Ulcers -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit

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A pressure sore/decubitus ulcer is a bed sore caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin that comes from lying in the same position too long and is associated with pain.    Nursing home patients experience pressure from their bed and/or chair to certain points on their skin preventing the blood from flowing into those points.  Because the blood is not allowed to flow into those points, the skin, deprived of nutrients and oxygen, can become injured and susceptible to infection.

The standard of care applicable to nursing homes requires the nursing home staff to ensure that a resident entering the facility without pressure ulcers does not develop them unless the resident's clinical condition demonstrates that they were medically unavoidable.  The nursing home staff must also ensure that a resident having pressure ulcers receives necessary and proper wound care treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new ulcers from developing.  The nursing home staff must relieve pressure by turning and repositioning the resident at least every two hours while in bed and every hour while in a Geri-chair or wheelchair, maintain adequate nutrition and hydration, and prevent contractures of the extremities.

Unfortunately, once a bedsore has progressed to stage 3 and stage 4, it is difficult to achieve healing and avoid painful and life-threatening complications.  These patients may develop osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and sepsis (blood infection) ultimately resulting in death. 

Under Maryland law, when a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home negligence, two causes of action arise: (1) a wrongful death claim; and (2) a survivorship claim.

A sample Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of negligence relating to nursing home bed sores/pressure sores/decubitus ulcers follows:

COMPLAINT

 Plaintiff, (insert name), individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of  (insert name), by his attorneys, David L. Feldstein and Dever & Feldstein, LLC, hereby files this Complaint against Defendants, (insert names), and in support thereof, states as follows:

 PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

 1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiff has been a citizen and resident of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiff (insert name) is the surviving child of the decedent, (insert name) and is a wrongful death beneficiary in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 2. (Insert name) is also the duly-appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of (insert name).  The Register of Wills for Baltimore City issued Letters of Administration to (insert name) on (insert date).  The Estate of (insert name) is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 3. At all times material to this case, (insert names) have been corporations engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City, Maryland, and acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
 4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, (insert names) have owned, managed and operated a nursing and rehabilitation center known as (insert name) located at (insert address) in Baltimore City and have held themselves and their agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of medical and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to the Plaintiff to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services.
 6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all of the individuals at (insert name) who participated in the care provided to Plaintiff were acting on behalf of and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with (insert name). 
 7. On or about (insert date), Plaintiff was transferred to (insert name) for short-term rehabilitation following a two-week hospitalization at (insert name) Hospital.  Prior to her admission to (insert name) Hospital, Plaintiff had been living independently at home, and her treating doctors at planned for her to return home following a brief rehabilitation at (insert name) nursing home.  At the time of her admission to the Defendant's nursing home, Plaintiff was examined by the admitting nurse and noted to have no pressure wounds or decubitus ulcers on her sacrum or elsewhere on her body.  The nurse also completed a Braden scale for Plaintiff indicating that she was at mild risk for developing future pressure wounds or decubitus ulcers.
 8. On or about (insert date), nurses at the Defendant's nursing home documented that Plaintiff was suffering from a stage II sacral decubitus ulcer.   The next day, Plaintiff was transferred to (insert name) Hospital for treatment of a coagulopathy, and doctors noted the stage II decubitus ulcer on her sacrum.  Plaintiff was given local wound care before being discharged back to the nursing home on (insert date).  The discharge instructions included repositioning Plaintiff every two hours and providing her with daily wound care for her sacral decubitus ulcer.
 9. Following her re-admission to the nursing home, Plaintiff did not receive adequate wound care and prevention, and as a result, her sacral decubitus ulcer grew larger and became infected, and she developed additional decubitus ulcers on her left buttocks and left heel.
 10. On (insert date), Plaintiff was transferred back to (insert name) Hospital for treatment of her decubituc ulcers. Plaintiff was evaluated by the wound care team and diagnosed with a stage IV sacral decubitus ulcer with purulent drainage, necrosis, and deep tunneling.  As reflected in the records, doctors advised Plaintiff's family that her sacral decubitus would likely never heal and would require chronic care.  Plaintiff was ultimately discharged from the hospital on (insert date) and transferred to (insert name) hospice care center.
 11. Over the next two months, Plaintiff continued to suffer from her stage IV sacral ulcer and related complications until she ultimately succumbed to these conditions on (insert date).  The Death Certificate lists the cause of death as sepsis due to a sacral decubitus ulcer with osteomyelitis.

COUNT 1
(Professional Negligence)

 12. The Plaintiff incorporates all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 13. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed Plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
 14. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to Plaintiff, thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:
a. failed to adequately and timely diagnose and treat Plaintiff's medical conditions;
b. failed to take reasonable and appropriate measures to maintain Plaintiff's skin integrity, which resulted in the development of multiple decubitus ulcers;
c. failed to ensure that Plaintiff received adequate wound care, as well as the diet and nutrition necessary for wound prevention and healing; 
d. failed to adequately and timely assess, diagnose, and treat Plaintiff's pressure wounds and skin breakdown; and
e. were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.
 15. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, Plaintiff was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
 16. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, Plaintiff, among other things, was forced to undergo medical treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in her normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
 17. Had Defendants followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, Plaintiff would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
 18. The injuries and damages herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendants, with no negligence on the part of Plaintiff contributing thereto.
 WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff requests that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds him entitled.

COUNT II
(Wrongful Death)

 19. The Plaintiff incorporates all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 20. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' above-described negligence in causing the death of Plaintiff, (insert name) has sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of guidance and loss of education. 

 WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff requests that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds him entitled.

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Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Feldstein published on August 25, 2009 8:42 AM.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Prevention -- Family Members Should Make Regular Nursing Home Visits at Unpredictable Times was the previous entry in this blog.

Death Secondary to Nursing Home Dehydration / Malnutrition -- Sample Complaint in Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death / Survivorship Lawsuit is the next entry in this blog.

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