The elder law attorneys at Mahany Law are investigating a claim that a patient developed a Stage 3 bedsore while a patient at Flushing Hospital. With today’s advances in medicine, there is absolutely no reason for a patient to develop of a bedsore while hospitalized. This is especially true of Stage 3 pressure sores which are considered life threatening.
Flushing Hospital claims to be “recognized and awarded by leading healthcare organizations.” They also boast a dedicated wound care unit. Typically, bedsores are considered wounds requiring specialized treatment and management. The hospital is operated by the non-profit MediSys Health Network.
The most recent Medisys tax return shows the parent company has assets of almost $123 million. With total liabilities of just $96 million, the hospital system should have plenty of money on hand to properly care for patients. (In fairness to the hospital, the individual return for Flushing Hospital shows they lost money in 2017, the year for the most recent reported tax return. Whether or not a hospital is profitable, they still have a legal obligation to provide proper care to patients. We don’t have much sympathy since the “nonprofit” hospital’s CEO was paid $1.5 million and the CFO made $1 million in 2017.)
Recent Study Shows Serious Bedsores Still Plague Hospitals
Most of our bedsore cases involve nursing homes. Many nursing home residents have mobility issues and require long term care. Staying in the same position for too long is how pressure stores begin. Nursing homes also have less resources available. That is why we were surprised when we received a report of a serious bedsore that developed while the patient was hospitalized.
In doing our research, we learned that a recent study found that bedsores among Medicare patients dropped by 40% between 2009 and 2014. Those results are misleading, however.
First, Medicare no longer pays for treatment of bedsores that occur while someone is a patient. Healthcare officials believe that pressure sores are preventable. Therefore, they don’t feel they should pay. [We emphasize that Medicare won’t pay for bedsores that have an onset while in a nursing home or hospital. If a patient is transferred to a hospital with a bedsore, reimbursement for treatment is available. The idea is to provide incentives for hospitals to prevent bedsores from happening.] Since they can’t bill for bedsores, there is less incentive to report them.
Next, pressure ulcers have 4 stages. A stage 1 bedsore is not an open wound while a stage 4 bedsore is quite deep reaching the bone or muscle. Stage 3 and 4 pressure sores are considered life threatening and could take months to heal (and may not completely heal).
With this as a backdrop, the survey showed that most of the reduction in hospital bedsores were of the less serious stage 1 and 2 variety. That means the drop in the deadly types of bedsores is not significant.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “There is ample evidence that the majority of pressure ulcers occur relatively early in the admissions process. For patients in the hospital, they can occur within the first 2 weeks.11 With the increased acuity of elderly patients admitted and decreased lengths of stay in hospital, new data suggest that 15 percent of elderly patients will develop pressure ulcers within the first week of hospitalization.12 For those elderly residents admitted to long-term care, pressure ulcers are most likely to develop within the first 4 weeks of admission.”13
Bedsores in Hospitals – a Deep Dive
Bedsores (also known ressure ulcers or pressure sores) remain a problem in hospitals. Admittedly the numbers of bedsores are more difficult to measure since Medicare won’t pay for treatment. At least one survey says the more serious stage 3 and stage 4 are still a huge problem in our nation’s hospitals
Pressure ulcers develop when patients are stationary in a bed for extended periods of time without repositioning. According to the NIH, “the majority of people affected with pressure sores are those having health conditions (mental or physical) that encourage immobility, especially those who are confined to bed or chair for prolonged periods of time. Several other health conditions that influence blood supply and capillary perfusion, such as type-2 diabetes, can make a person more vulnerable to pressure ulcers. Age is also a factor that the majority (approximately two-third) of pressure ulcers occur in old age people (60-80 years of age). To put it more simply, any individual, with or without a medical condition, who is incapable of avoiding prolonged periods of an uninterrupted compression, is at a risk of pressure ulcers.”
This is precisely why nursing home and hospital patients are prone to developing bedsores.
Since bedsores are preventable, patients who develop these ailments may be eligible for compensation. [Contact us if you wish to speak to an experienced hospital bedsore lawyer.]
Now that Medicare won’t pay for treating bedsores that first manifest in hospitals, hospital administrators are now taking prevention seriously. They should, stage 3 and 4 bedsores are often fatal and treatment of these serious wounds can take months. Not only are bedsores painful for patients, they are expensive for hospitals.
Pressure sore prevention does not have to be expensive. Common measures include:
- Prompt risk assessment upon admission
- Specialized beds for at risk patients (at risk patients should have pressure repositioning mattresses)
- Insuring patients are repositioned frequently
- Daily examination of the patient’s body
- Management of skin moisture
Hospital Bedsore Lawyers
Hospital bedsores are preventable. Period.
For purposes of this discussion, we will assume that despite careful bedsore prevention, some mistakes will happen. But if hospitals are properly monitoring patients, even if a patient develops a stage 1 bedsore, there can’t be any reason for that pressure ulcer to develop into a stage 2, 3 or 4. Serious bedsores don’t develop overnight. If a patient has a stage 3 or stage 4 bedsore and that bedsore developed in the hospital, chances are high that medical malpractice and medical neglect have occurred.
Hospital malpractice and negligence kills tens of thousands of people each year. An estimated 161,250 preventable deaths occur each year in U.S. hospitals. The worst states were Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. Fifty-eight percent of Oregon hospitals had A ratings but zero hospitals in the District of Columbia were rated A!
If you or a loved one have developed a stage 3 or stage 4 bedsore in a hospital or nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation. We believe bedsores are preventable, especially in hospitals who typically have better equipment, more staff and better training.
There is no reason for anyone to suffer a serious bedsore. Although rarely directly fatal, bedsores frequently result in deadly complications. For example, untreated bedsores can cause cancer. They also often become infected and turn septic. For older patients and those with compromised immune systems, sepsis is often fatal. As the infections spread, organ failure is often common. Permanent joint injuries and arthritis are also common.
What is My Hospital Bedsore Lawsuit Case Worth?
In most cases a jury determines how much compensation a bedsore patient should receive. In 2011, a New Mexico jury awarded Alfred Gonzalez $10.3 million after he developed bedsores while at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. Gonzalez had hip surgery at the hospital although while recovering, he was not checked or moved. Within a week he began to develop bedsores on his ankles that progressively became worse.
In Kingston, New York a cancer patient developed bedsores while in the hospital for complications of his cancer. During his short two week hospitalization he developed a stage 4 bedsore. Although discharged from the hospital, he died a month later from his liver cancer.
Despite dying from cancer just one month later, a jury awarded $500,000 for his pain and suffering. The patient’s expert testified the hospital failed to frequently turn him, failed to supply an air mattress and failed to prepare a bedsore risk assessment.
The patient’s wife testified that the hospital’s negligence “caused a large grotesque foul-smelling wound in which flesh literally rotted as the decedent, a stoic Korean War veteran, died an ignominious and painful death.” A New York Appeals Court affirmed the jury award in February 2019.
The law on hospital medical malpractice varies wildly from state to state. Unfortunately, some states only have a one year statute of limitations (the time period in which a lawsuit must be filed). To learn more, we urge you to visit our bedsore lawsuit information page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us for a free, no obligation review of your hospital bedsore claim. We can be reached online, by email at 833-201-1555. We and our network of experienced hospital bedsore lawyer can help you anywhere in the United States.