A 56-year-old woman admitted to a Virginia (VA) hospital for multiple laparoscopic surgeries developed bedsores after two and a half days in bed without being moved or repositioned. The patient was settled in her room on October 9, 2009. Her daughter remained with her for most of the following two and a half days, and so she able to say that nursing staff did not reposition her mother in the bed, causing the medical malpractice.
On October 11 or 12, a decubitus ulcer was discovered on the patient’s buttocks. By the time of her discharge three days later, the decubitus ulcer had grown to 6 cm by 4 cm.
A new ulcer appeared on the patient’s hip during home care. The first decubitus ulcer grew to 11 cm by 13 cm. By November 4, both ulcers showed signs of infection and the patient was readmitted to the hospital where morphine and fentanyl were administered for pain. The worst of the two decubitus ulcers, measuring 2.5 cm deep, was diagnosed as a Stage IV ulcer that exposed the bone.
During the six days of her second hospital stay, the patient received significant medical treatment including surgical debridement. She incurred $27,340 in bills related to treatment of the bedsore/decubitus ulcers. The patient was unemployed at the time and so there was no claim made for lost wages.
If the case had gone to trial for medical malpractice, the victim was prepared to present testimony from a wound care nurse regarding the hospital’s negligence during the patient’s first hospital stay when she was not repositioned in her bed. The hospital also retained the services of a doctor who would have testified as to other causes of decubitus ulcers-besides the hospital’s lack of proper care. The parties settled in June 2010 for $300,000.