Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney Robert Painter files lawsuit that claims: Conroe Regional Medical Center nurses cause pressure sore, bone infection
Nurses can prevent bedsores by following standard safety guidelines.
Painter Law Firm’s Texas medical malpractice lawyers recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of a 50-year old Montgomery man, named Raymond, against Conroe Regional Medical Center. The case is pending in the 410th District Court of Montgomery County, Texas.
Raymond is an otherwise healthy middle-aged man who works for an oil service company. He was admitted to Conroe Regional Hospital because of injuries from a motorcycle accident. During an admission of over one month, he completely recovered from those injuries, but left the hospital with a pressure sore on the heel of his left foot.
Raymond’s bedsore developed, was not identified by the nursing staff and got so bad at the hospital that it caused a bone infection called osteomyelitis. Two years later, Raymond still suffers from that severe hospital-acquired on his foot.
When Raymond was admitted to the Conroe hospital, the doctors and nurses placed him in an OCL/fiberglass cast that covered the back of his left lower extremity and wrapped it in ace bandages. Because of his injuries, he had to stay in his hospital bed for over a month.
Having a patient in a bed for that long presents some special responsibilities to the healthcare providers. Whether at a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or rehabilitation/rehab facility, administrators, doctors and nurses know that one of the biggest risks to patients who are confined to a bed is pressure sores.
What Causes Bedsores?
Pressure sores develop when there is a prolonged period of unrelieved pressure on a body part. The heels are one of the most common areas for bedsores, because gravity and the weight of the foot and leg compress the soft tissue of the heel and compromise blood flow. After two hours of this type of pressure, the capillaries collapse, blood flow reduces or stops, and tissues die—that is when a pressure sore becomes noticeable.
As part of our investigation of this case, Painter Law Firm hired medical and nursing experts to help us find out what happened at Conroe Regional Hospital regarding Raymond’s care. Those reports are now on file with the court, and I have summarized the experts’ criticisms below.
An Ounce of Prevention
By far, the best way to treat pressure sores it to prevent them because once they develop they are hard to heal. Bedsore prevention requires well-trained and competent nurses who pay careful attention to their patients.
The Conroe Regional Medical Center nurses neglected Raymond by not following standard procedures, such as using pillows and heel protectors to prevent the skin on Raymond’s heels from breaking down and forming a pressure sore.
Another way that hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and rehabilitation/rehab facilities are required to prevent bedsores in their patients is by providing appropriate beds. The Texas Board of Nursing requires nurses to advocate for their patients, to make sure that they received the care they need. The Conroe Regional Medical Center nurses failed in that duty, and as a result Raymond went for weeks without a bariatric bed with a low air loss mattress, which would have prevented bedsores or pressure ulcers from forming.
Skin Checks Are Key
According to the medical records, Conroe Regional Medical Center requires its nurses to use a pressure sore/wound prevention protocol, called the Braden Scale. When used properly, tools like the Braden Scale help nurses prevent pressures sores, and helps nurses track any pressure sores that the patient has.
Our nursing expert noted that the nurses did not use the Braden Scale tool to assess Raymond’s left heel at least once per shift, as required by the standard of care. In fact, the nurses did not even remove the splint and ace bandages once a shift to look at Raymond’s heel. Because the nurses were not even looking at Raymond’s heels, it is no surprise that they did not discover that he had developed a pressure sore, and did not tell the doctors about it, so he could get proper treatment.
The board certified critical care expert physician who reviewed this case for us explained that if the Conroe Regional Medical Center nurses had provided this basic nurses care, then Raymond would have never developed the pressure sores on his left foot and heel.
Treatment Is Painful
As a result of the poor nursing care at Conroe Regional Medical Center, Raymond had to go through terribly painful debridements, which involved scrubbing or cutting off dead tissue from his heel. For a long period of time, Raymond also had to wear a wound vac on the wound site. Understandably, now two years later, his foot is still very sensitive and he has to wear an air cast when he puts any pressure on it—even to walk.
If you or someone you care for has suffered from pressure wounds or bedsores, which developed at a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or rehabilitation/rehab facility, call 281-580-8800 for a free consultation with the Texas medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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Published in the July/August 2018 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine