Lawsuit Filed: Elderly Man Develops Bone & Muscle-Exposing Bedsores
San Diego, Calif. — Harry Barney Conner, an 80-year-old bedridden man, was transferred from Sharp Memorial Hospital to Kindred Hospital – San Diego, for continuing care in October 2017. Conner’s medical conditions left him dependent for all activities of daily living, including turning and repositioning, transferring into and out of bed and wheelchair, dressing, grooming, bathing, hygiene, toileting assistance, and medication management. It’s alleged that due to the negligence of hospital staff during his approximately two-month stay, Conner developed infected bedsores so deep and severe on his heels and lower back that they exposed bone, muscle, and tendon. Upon his discharge from the hospital, the wounds were classified as “unstageable,” which are the most serious level of ulcers. Sadly, Conner died just one month after his release from the hospital.
Garcia & Artigliere filed a lawsuit against Kindred Hospital – San Diego for elder abuse.
“As alleged in the lawsuit, the abuse and neglect Harry endured at Kindred Hospital caused him unnecessary and prolonged suffering before his unfortunate death. His high risk of injury was well known when he entered the hospital, yet his care needs were systematically ignored,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The hospital failed egregiously in its duty to Harry by not having sufficient trained staff available to care for him. Anyone involved in running hospitals is aware that understaffing puts patients in jeopardy, but in this case, it appears higher earnings took precedence over patient safety.”
Allegations and Background
On October 11, 2017, Conner was transferred from Sharp Memorial Hospital to Kindred Hospital – San Diego (Kindred) for continuing care. A physical examination performed on admission revealed that Conner had a large healing abdominal wound from a colostomy procedure and severe swelling, abrasions and skin tears on his upper and lower limbs. However, there were no pressure sores present on his body.
The lawsuit alleges that Conner’s custodial needs and pressure sore risk factors were clearly manageable through the application of fundamental nursing principles and guidelines. By implementing well-recognized precautions and safety measures typically used in general acute care hospitals, Conner could have been protected from pressure sores and subsequent injuries. The hospital failed Conner in this regard, the suit further alleges.
On October 13, 2017, a hospital physician noted Conner’s need for around-the-clock care. There were still no pressures sores present on Conner at that time. The same day, his colostomy bag was filled with brownish stool and a wound VAC was recommended.
On October 14, 2017, Conner’s colostomy bag ruptured. As a result, feces got into his surgical abdominal wound.
On October 16, 2017, Conner’s skin integrity was significantly changed. Pressure sores had developed, including on his lower back in the sacral/coccyx area. The sacral/coccyx sore was described at the time as a Stage II sore that measured 3 x 6 cm and 1/10 cm deep. Additionally, Conner was noted to have black eschar covering both heels.
The suit alleges that despite the hospital having full and advance knowledge of the breakdown to Conner’s skin, and the heightened need to prevent worsening and new sores, the hospital continued to wrongfully withhold care. Hospital staff ignored monitoring changes to his skin and continued to leave him lying in bed unturned and in his own waste for long periods of time. Consequently, Conner’s skin continued to break down.
As a direct result of the hospital’s ongoing and systematic withholding of care and services, the sores on Conner’s back and both heels worsened until they were infected and bone, muscle, and tendon were exposed, the suit alleges.
By December 2017, the pressures sores on Conner’s heels were described as unstageable, which are presumed to be Stage III or Stage IV sores. The sore on one heel measured 4 x 4 cm with undetermined depth due to necrosis. The pressure sore on his sacral/coccyx area was still a Stage II sore, but now measured 5 x 5 cm and 3/10 cm deep.
On December 6, 2017, Conner was discharged from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility. The admission orders to the nursing home included care for unstageable wounds on his heels and back.
Sadly, on January 10, 2018, Conner passed away. He had spent the remainder of his life enduring these painful and preventable injuries. Despite his advanced age and conditions at the time of his admission to the hospital, his quality of life was greatly impacted by the lack of quality medical care and interventions he received while at the hospital, the lawsuit alleges. The suit further alleges that over the course of his stay at the hospital, Conner’s known needs were systematically and continuously ignored.