A jury in California recently awarded the family of an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient a sum of $23 million in punitive damages for elder abuse and wrongful death.
Our Palm Beach Gardens nursing home abuse lawyers applaud the victory. Amid a heart-wrenching tragedy, we hope that her loved ones will find some peace in knowing that her story has helped to shed light on a pervasive and too-often silent issue that affects elderly patients across the country.
According to local news reports, the trial lasted several weeks, but jury deliberations lasted less than a day. Ultimately, the jury found that the nursing home facility, a corporation based out of Washington State, acted not only with malice, but also with oppression and fraud in the way that staffers treated this woman.
The retired schoolteacher had been transferred to the facility just three months before she died. By the time she passed away, her body was covered with at least four pressure sores that had become badly infected. She had also lost a substantial amount of weight.
Attorneys hired by the woman’s three children said there were some nights at the facility that staffers weren’t present in her ward at all, despite assurances that she would be receiving around-the-clock care. A resident nurse at the facility was reportedly aware of the sores the woman had incurred shortly after her arrival, but that nurse allegedly instructed aides not to let anyone know about them.
When the woman entered the facility, she was able to move around with the aid of a walker. Less than two weeks into her stay, she fell and was never able to get up again. Her most serious pressure sore developed on her backside from so much sitting in a wheelchair.
As you probably know, bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, are injuries to the skin and the tissue underlying that are the direct result of prolonged pressure on the skin. They can develop anywhere, but they’re most commonly seen on bony areas of the body, such as the buttocks, hops, ankles or heels.
Nursing home residents – especially those with forms of dementia – are at high risk because they tend to be less mobile, unable to change positions on their own and not necessarily able to inform caregivers when sores have become especially large or painful.
But it falls on the caregiver to know. It falls on the caregiver to make sure each patient is moved frequently to prevent these sores from developing in the first place. And if the sores do develop, it falls on the caregivers to recognize and swiftly treat them.
Although pressure sores can manifest rather quickly, they can be very tough to treat – which is why early detection is so important. A pressure sore will not get better on its own. A registered nurse advising staffers to ignore it would have known that she was condemning this woman to unbearable pain and a rapidly deteriorating quality of health.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Sacramento jury slams firm with $23 million in punitive damages in wrongful death, elder abuse of woman, March 8, 2013, By Andy Furillo, The Sacramento Bee
More Blog Entries:
Doctor: Keeping My Mom Safe in Hospital Was Difficult, March 1, 2013, Palm Beach Gardens Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog