A Philadelphia nursing home has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 73 year old man who developed multiple bedsores during a three week stay at the NE Philadelphia nursing facility. The lawsuit alleged that the bedsores were caused by the nursing staff’s failure to monitor and rotate the patient, who at the time was incapacitated due to a recent stroke.
The family’s lawyer, Christopher J. Culleton of the Swartz Culleton law firm, explained that the settlement was compensation for two months of pain and suffering only as the family had not pursued a wrongful death claim; the bedsores, which resolved after appropriate treatment was provided at a new nursing facility, had played no role in the victim’s eventual death. “The key to the case,” said Mr. Culleton, “was to show that the victim’s pressure sores were not inevitable. Nurses at another facilities testified in depositions that the victim’s bedsores began to heal with appropriate care.”
Relying on records showing that the victim received no pain medication, the defendant nursing home contended that the victim, who was non-responsive due to his stroke, was unable to feel pain. “Relying on the same records and witness observations of the patient’s response to external stimuli,” explained Culleton, “we were able to obtain expert geriatric care specialist opinion that the patient could feel and did feel tremendous pain. In that respect, we turned the lack of pain medication from the nursing home’s shield to our sword.”
According to the plaintiff’s lawyer, “A patient who is terminal and has poor quality of life is still entitled to quality medical care. With limited exception, bed sores just shouldn’t happen and the legal system will not turn a blind eye when our loved ones are caused to spend their final days in avoidable suffering due to nursing home neglect.”