Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hospital let patient sit in chair 18 hours after abdominal surgery!!

Plaintiff vs. Defendant Hospital Regarding Settlement $175,000.00 Settled following case evaluation, days before trial Facts: This is a medical malpractice action where Plaintiff, after abdominal surgery, was allowed to sit in a chair in his room from approximately 6:00 p.m. on the day of surgery until the following day at approximately noon, approximately 18 hours in a chair while on pain medication with an epidural in place. There was no indication in the notes that he was moved, shifted or whether skin integrity was assessed. Further, the nurses admitted this was the timing of the duration which he was sitting in the chair. As a result, Plaintiff developed severe and painful decubitus ulcers on his buttocks and feet, experienced numbness in his toes and impaired paresis of both lower extremities resulting in the need for extensive physical therapy, the need to wear braces and utilize a cane. Plaintiff was a vibrant 72-year-old at the time of this elective surgery for the resection of a benign gastrointestinal mass. He was working part-time in law enforcement, a job which required both agility and mobility on his feet. The defense was based on the testimony of the day and night shift nurses that Plaintiff refused to go to bed. The nurses indicated there was nothing more they could do. The nurse supervisor, however, indicated that the nurses could follow the chain of command and seek assistance to mobilize Plaintiff and return him to bed. The Plaintiff does not remember the events after surgery until he was lifted from the chair around noon – feeling skin ripping from his buttock. Plaintiff relied on the expertise of a registered nurse and a neurologist, who testified that it was below the standard of care to allow a patient to sit in a chair for over 17 hours, and that clearly the ulcerations and the nerve damages experienced was secondary to allowing him to remain in the chair without pressure relief. Plaintiff’s expert neurologist performed an IME examination and testified that as a direct result between the damages inflicted and the patient’s positioning, the Plaintiff sustained bilateral sciatic neuropathies as a result of being in the chair for a prolonged time. This resulted in direct damage to the sciatic nerve fibers and their blood supply, resulting in permanent neurologic impairment. Defendant claimed that Plaintiff had neurologic impairment to his lower extremities due to his diabetes prior to his admission, that Plaintiff had a history of refusing treatment a couple of times, and that on this day he refused to go to bed. At the time of the incident, Plaintiff was working part-time as indicated, living at home with his wife. He was extremely independent, an avid photographer and artist, and enjoyed his law enforcement work. He had been married 53 years. His wife had developed Alzheimer’s, and as a result of his neurologic impairment he was unable to care for his wife, who then needed to be placed in a senior care nursing home. Rehab consisted of learning to walk again. Plaintiff’s right ankle would flex out to the right and make it difficult to walk. There was and is no feeling. Plaintiff has fallen and stumbles frequently due to inability to feel pressure of stepping on his foot and has a constant sense of losing his balance. The nerve damage is permanent.

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