Patient Dies After Developing a Pressure Sore During a Medically-Induced Coma

Garcia, Artigliere & Medby filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Kaiser Foundation Hospital – San Diego for elder abuse, negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges that the facility neglected one of its patients, Dennis Mesker, while he was in a medically-induced coma, causing him to suffer from a Stage IV pressure ulcer that later resulted in his death.

“The hospital warranted that they were aware of Dennis’ fragile condition and that they were sufficiently staffed and equipped with the resources needed to manage his care while he was in a coma. They falsely made such promises, knowing that once Dennis was in his helpless state after the surgery, he was nothing more than a source of revenue,” said Attorney Stephen Garcia. “The hospital had no intention of providing the care Dennis desperately needed.”

On December 4, 2015, Mr. Mesker was admitted to Kaiser Foundation Hospital – San Diego for multiple surgeries to reroute a major artery to his legs through his spine. The surgery was required as a result of a botched operation performed by doctors at the facility in November of the same year.

After his surgery, Mr. Mesker was placed in a medically-induced coma and put on a ventilator. He remained in a coma for four days, during which time he was entirely dependent on staff for assistance. Mr. Mesker was bedbound, incontinent of both bowel and bladder, non-ambulatory and had zero bed-mobility in that he was completely unable to turn or reposition himself. He was also unconscious.

Mr. Mesker’s family expressed concern for his well-being, specifically in regards to pressure sore development. They addressed the fact that Mr. Mesker was often left unattended and they rarely witnessed any assistance from staff members with his nutrition, hydration, or toileting needs. The staff was aware of Mr. Mesker’s condition, and the hospital had originally promised them that they were sufficiently staffed and equipped with the resources necessary to manage his care while he was in a coma.

Knowing Mr. Mesker was completely dependent on the staff, and confident they could sufficiently deceive his family into believing that he was receiving the care he needed, the hospital completely disregarded Mr. Mesker’s needs, resulting in a painful, infected and avoidable pressure ulcer.

As a result of being completely motionless and unattended to for at least four days, Mr. Mesker developed a pressure ulcer on his sacral coccyx. When he came out of his coma on December 15, 2015, he complained to the hospital staff that his “butt hurt.” Fully aware that he had not received any interventions to prevent pressure sore development, staff ignored his apparent signs of pain and did nothing to relieve them.

In an attempt to conceal how severe the sore was, the facility informed his family that it was only Stage II. The hospital later promised that they were going to put Mr. Mesker in a special bed and that they would reposition him regularly. However, they had no intention of doing so or rendering such care, as they were physically limited by stringent financial constraints.

As a result, the wound worsened and progressed to a Stage IV sore spanning from the middle of his back to his rectum. By January 15, 2016, the wound was nearly a foot in diameter, was surrounded by necrotic tissue and appeared brown, black and yellow. A plastic surgeon conducted a procedure to remove the top layer of skin. After all the dead skin was removed, Mr. Mesker’s family was told that he would not be able to walk again and would not ever be able to sit in a wheelchair due to the sore. Doctors also advised that he would have to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. Mr. Mesker’s family made the decision to bring him home for hospice care, and two days later, he passed away.