A Wrenching Tale of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

This is a horrible case of nursing home abuse and neglect. Our client suffered multiple Stage III-IV bedsores in his last months of life, and was malnourished due to the negligence of defendant nursing home. The Louisville, Kentucky, nursing home's employees cruelly teased our client with food, and one staff member stole and ate our client's food, on multiple occasions.

Case Background

Our client, seventy-four years of age, was admitted to a Kentucky nursing home for sub-acute rehabilitation services, after which he was to return home. As documented in the admission records, his skin was intact without excoriation or breakdown. According to the nursing plan, a patient goal was to “proceed with care planning and to focus on an interdisciplinary approach to the prevention of skin breakdown and infection.” The care plan noted that the approach to achieving this goal was to turn the patient every two hours and for frequent redistribution off pressure areas.

The First Worrying Sign: Massive Weight Loss

Our client did well in the first few months. However, he soon started to lose a marked amount of weight. It was noted that his weight was 180.6 pounds. However, just a month later he weighed 149.8 pounds. This weight loss is not addressed by the facility. In fact, he is not weighed again until a month later, when he dropped another pound, and his lab results at that point show that his albumin and protein were low. However, the nursing home did nothing to address our client's weight loss and low protein levels.

It was not until the following month that the nursing home recognized our client's weight loss as significant. By this time, he weighed 142 pounds. The nursing home changed our client's care plan and required that he be assisted with meals and that his weight be monitored weekly. However, there is no documentation in the medical record that this was done. In fact, there are only three more weights recorded before his death.

Bedsores

While in the nursing home, our client suffered a seizure and was sent to Norton Suburban Hospital for treatment. He recovered and was returned to the nursing home. Upon being readmitted, the nursing home's nursing notes reflect that our client has no current skin breakdown and that his skin was warm, dry and intact. He did not have any bedsores at this time.

Under the original care plan, our client was to be turned every two hours since he was at risk for developing bedsores.

Only 23 days later, only one nurse—who had worked four shifts in the twenty-three day period—had documented turning our client. It is evident from his injuries that the order to turn our client every two hours was simply not done. He had developed huge bedsores (stage III-IV sacral ulcer, and a right medial heel Stage IV ulcer).

Despite a doctor's order to clean and dress the coccyx ulcer every day, twelve days went by and there was no documentation that his coccyx ulcer was ever cleaned or dressed. In further violation of the order, six days went by before nursing home employees recorded that they turned our client, despite the physician’s order that he be turned every two hours.

A physician ordered a protein supplement to help control and prevent new skin breakdown, but there is no recording that it was ever given.

In so much pain from his multiple decubitus ulcers, our client was seen in the Emergency Room at Baptist Hospital East. The ER documented that he suffered from immobilization syndrome and that he suffered pain in his back, hips, and legs and that he “cried out in pain when tried to be moved.” It was noted that his legs were “contracted” and he had a sacral decubitus ulcer and decubitus ulcers on both of his hips and heels. He was discharged back to the nursing home on the same day.

A month later our client was admitted to Norton Suburban Hospital for “bilateral hip and sacral decubitus ulcers.” It was noted again that he “contracted in a fetal position and comes in to the hospital with bilateral hip skin breakdown and necrotic sacral decubitus ulcer.” It was also found that he had “profound protein malnutrition.” Throughout his stay at the hospital he received treatment for his multiple decubitus ulcers that developed while he was under the care of the nursing home.

Despite the hospital's efforts, it was too late. The last days of his life were spent in incredible pain as he lay trying to recover from severe malnourishment, suffering from stage III and IV bedsores. Our client died only three days later.

Liability and Damages

One of the first thing a nurse learns in nursing school is that if it is not documented, it was not done. There was no excuse for our client's condition. His contracted state and multiple decubitus ulcers were caused by a failure of the nursing home staff to turn our client as ordered. Furthermore, the nursing home failed to recognize his weight loss and its employees violated his resident rights and human dignity by cruelly teasing him with food and stealing his food.

As a result of the lack of care provided by the staff he suffered from extreme pain and suffering from malnutrition and the skin breakdown and multiple bedsores resulting from their grossly negligent behavior. The nursing home's action clearly violated our client's rights under the Kentucky Residents’ Rights Statute, KRS 216.515.

After several months of litigation, this case resolved for policy limits.

Policy Limit

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law