It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
$1.2 Million Verdict Awarded in Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Case
Photo provided by The Buffalo News
According to The Buffalo News, a jury in upstate New York awarded Shirley Burrows, 72, a $1.2 million verdict after finding Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center guilty of negligence. Instead of receiving proper treatment for her bedsores, Burrows’ condition only worsened in the health care center, leaving her lower back bone untreated, becoming exposed. Of the $1.2 million, $775,000 was awarded for Burrows’ pain and suffering, and the remaining $475,000 was awarded for the violation of state public health laws that were put in place to protect nursing home residents.
What is a Bedsore?
It all started in May 2015 when Burrows was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of “superficial” bedsores. According to the Mayo Clinic, a bedsore, also known as pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, are “injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin”, Mayo states that, “bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone.” Bedsores are most likely to form when a person has a medical condition that limits their ability to move or change positions, creating pressure against the skin that limits blood flow to the area. Although minor bedsores can often heal quickly, they can easily turn into deep and painful sores if left untreated.
When Burrows was discharged from the Lockport hospital in New York, the doctors sent a care plan to the Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center in order to treat Burrows’ forming bedsores. This plan of care included turning Burrows every 2 hours in order to prevent the worsening of her pressure ulcers and encourage their healing. Medical experts even testified at the trial explaining that, by following the provided plan of care, the wounds would have been healed in four to eight weeks. However, the staff at Newfane neglected to follow the care plan and caused Burrows’ minor wound to turn into a stage four bedsore, exposing her bone and requiring immediate surgery once discovered.
Two years later, Shirley Burrows is no longer at a hospital or health care center and lives at her home in Newfane, New York. However, she is still suffering from her traumatic experience at the Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center. After two years of treatment at the wound clinic, Burrows still has a small open wound in which her daughter manages and cleans daily.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect happen all too often. Pressure ulcers specifically are one of the most preventable, but most common health conditions in the United States. According to a recent study conducted by Wound Management and Prevention, “pressure ulcers occur in up to 23% of patients in long-term and rehabilitation facilities” and affect nearly 2.5 million individuals in the U.S. every year.
With more than 600,000 deaths every year, the onset of bedsores are not to be taken lightly. If you or a loved one has been affected by a bedsore at a hospital, health care, or assisted living facility, do not wait to take action.
Some symptoms include:
- Changes in skin color or texture
- Pus-like draining
- Skin feeling cooler or warmer to the touch in specific areas
- Tender or painful areas
If you have more questions about bedsores or any form of nursing home neglect or abuse, do not hesitate to give us a call at (216)-285-9991 or fill out our contact form for a FREE, no obligation consultation. Our attorneys are experts in nursing home neglect and abuse and have won millions of dollars for victims that have been wronged.