If you’re noticing more stories about wound-related litigation hitting the news, it’s not just you. Lawsuits over pressure ulcers are increasingly common in both acute and long-term settings, with judgments as high as $312 million in a single case.
We took a look at some key cases over the past few years and discussed what they mean for providers as they strive to improve care outcomes while reducing litigation risks.
[Infographic] See the crucial data on wound-related litigation
Jury awards $6.5M in bedsore case
This large payout goes to the family of a man who acquired a sacral pressure ulcer while in hospital care. Hospitals consider a stage three pressure sore a “never event,” meaning that it should never happen in a hospital setting. Though some wounds are unavoidable, most are well-monitored, identified in testing at early stages and treated before severity increases.
Proper documentation of care is key to avoiding blame in wound lawsuits. Ensure your documentation follows the four Cs: comprehensive, concise, chronological and complete.
Nursing home faces wrongful death lawsuit
Another lawsuit based on the unnecessary escalation of a minor ulcer comes from the family of a veteran who died from complications due to bedsores. According to this lawsuit, this skilled nursing facility failed to document less severe ulcers until they escalated and became more difficult to treat. The alleged failure to use pressure-relieving devices in a timely manner resulted in the formation of additional ulcers. This lawsuit has not gone to trial yet, but you can be sure the wound care community will be paying attention as it progresses.
$600,000 settlement reached in federal wound care case
The government said in its suit that the operator of this skilled nursing facility performed “inadequate and worthless monitoring, documentation, and prevention and treatment of wounds” between 2006 and 2011. Attorney General Sam Olens added that the facility was supposed to “provide (patients) with quality wound care services to help them heal, but, instead, were mistreated.” The facility admitted no fault per terms of the settlement.
Judge says resident death is manslaughter
A Licensed practical nurse (LPN) was charged with aggravated manslaughter for inadequately treating a resident’s pressure ulcers, resulting in the resident’s death. The problem, according to an attorney general’s office’s release, was insufficient documentation on pressure ulcer measurements and inaccurate staging of the pressure ulcers. Accuracy and precision in care is key -- measurements you must take include length, width, and depth to account for total size.
[Infographic] A better approach to wound care in the modern era
CCRC reaches $1 million settlement in wrongful death suit
A continuing care retirement community agreed to a $1 million settlement for wrongful death and elder abuse. The issue at hand was a sacral pressure ulcer not treated promptly, which meant that the wound became infected and resulted in death. According to the lawsuit, the staff was not properly trained in wound care.
Nursing home to pay $1 million for resident's death
A judge ruled against a skilled nursing home, awarding $1 million to the family of a 71-year-old resident who suffered from infected pressure wounds. The lawsuit noted that neither her family or her physician were notified of the ulcers. It’s essential to communicate with a patient’s physician about developing wounds, and to document that notification to avoid litigation risks.
Case raises the bar for nursing home lawsuits
It’s rare for any nursing home lawsuit to actually go to trial. Several local firms specializing in nursing home litigation on behalf of plaintiffs said they reject the vast majority of cases brought to them by potential clients. Of those they accept, lawyers said at least 90 percent result in settlements , either before trial or before a suit is even filed. A nursing home’s insurance typically covers the payment, the details of which are not disclosed publicly, as both sides try to avoid protracted and costly legal battles.
Pressure sore lawsuits are among the most common types of cases brought against nursing homes, according to a law firm that aggressively challenges substandard care.
SNF will challenge jury's $30 million negligence verdict
A skilled nursing facility is contending a $30 million verdict that holds it at fault in the death of a woman who developed pressure ulcers on her right foot while at the facility. The sores became infected with fecal bugs and required her leg to be amputated in October of 2009. She died two months later. An attorney representing the facility said that the massive monetary settlement “is not based upon the facts and the law.”
In a time in which providers are being rewarded for providing better quality of care,these cases are a stark reminder that without the right experience or approach to wound care, you may face a costly lawsuit that you’re likely to lose -- 83 percent of wound-related litigation is settled in favor of the patient .
*Need links to any of the cases mentioned in this blog? Contact us and let us know what you’re interested in , and we’ll get those to you as soon as possible!