Pressure Ulcers: $6.5M Jury Verdict for Medical Negligence and Wrongful Death

August 1, 2015 | Health System Risk Management


​An Arizona jury recently awarded $6.5 million in damages to the family of a patient who died years after a hospitalization during which he developed a stage III pressure ulcer. According to news reports of the case, the patient was paralyzed from the waist down after falling from a roof in 2007 at age 63. After a brief admission to inpatient rehabilitation, he was readmitted to the defendant hospital with a pulmonary embolism. During the readmission, he sustained various complications, including pleural effusion, multiple codes, malnutrition, and a 45-pound weight loss. Upon return to the rehabilitation hospital three weeks later, he reportedly had a stage III sacral ulcer as well as a pressure ulcer on his left heel. The sacral wound became infected, and the patient required surgery.

Over the following four years, the patient was reportedly admitted to hospitals and nursing homes more than 20 times for multiple medical issues, including recurrent skin breakdown, gangrene, and diabetes. He died in 2012 at age 67 from "complications of paraplegia," as stated by a medical examiner's report. The patient's family reportedly argued that the sacral pressure sore developed at the defendant hospital put the patient in an irreversible state of deterioration. The jury awarded $3 million for the wrongful-death claim and $3.5 million under...

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