Should an active man in his early 60s who walks into the hospital for a knee surgery have bedsores three days later?
That is exactly the issue addressed by a lawsuit that Painter Law Firm filed this week styled Piangenti v. CHCA Clear Lake, L.P. d/b/a Mainland Medical Center, Cause No. 2017-42504, in the 129th District Court of Harris County, Texas, where Judge Michael Gomez is presiding. Mainland Medical Center is located in Texas City, Texas.
Our client was a pretty healthy man who enjoyed his job as a sports referee. Over the years, he started to experience knee pain and decided to follow his surgeon’s recommendation for surgery.
In July 2015, he went to Mainland Medical Center for a right total knee replacement. The surgery itself went well, but he had he had a decreased range of motion after surgery and needed help to walk around and even to stand. His surgeon decided to keep him in the hospital for a few days, and then to send him for physical therapy in Mainland Medical Center’s inpatient rehabilitation unit.
Just two days after the surgery, nurses in the hospital noted that the skin on his buttocks was already compromised. There was no mention, though, in the main hospital medical records of a bedsore.
As soon as he was transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation unit, though, a nurse noticed, and wrote in the medical records, that he had a Stage 2 bedsore on one side of his buttocks, with yellow drainage.
Bedsores are also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers. They are categorized into four different stages:
· Stage 1 pressure sores are not open wounds, but the skin appears reddened and does not blanch, or lose color briefly, when a finger is pressed against it and then removed. The skin temperature is often warmer than other parts of the skin.
· Stage 2 pressure sores are when the skin breaks open and forms an ulcer or a blister filled with fluid. These ulcers are typically tender and painful and expand into deeper skin layers.
· Stage 3 pressure sores go deeper into the tissue beneath the skin, basically making an indention or small crater.
· Stage 4 pressure sores go even deeper, reaching muscle and bone. They can cause serious damage to the deep tissues, as well as joints and tendons.
Unstageable pressure sores are so bad that there is full-thickness tissue loss, with the base of the ulcer covered by slough and/or eschar. Slough is a mix of pus, fibrin, and protein that may be yellow, tan, gray, green, or brown in color. Eschar is dead tissue that is falling away from the skin, which can be tan, brown, or black in color in the wound bed.
Our client was discharged to home from the Mainland Medical Center rehabilitation unit about two weeks after his surgery. The medical records reflect that he had an unstageable pressure sore on his heel and a Stage 2 ulcer on both sides of his buttocks.
He was doing so badly at home that his family took him to the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) hospital in Galveston, Texas. They admitted him to the hospital, diagnosing him with urosepsis and an infected sacral ulcer. His wound care doctor took him to surgery two days later to debride (scrape off dead tissue) the sacral wound, which the doctor noted was a Stage 4 pressure ulcer.
This man who had recently walked into Mainland Medical Center for a routine, elective surgery had developed hospital-acquired pressure sores that were so bad that he required hospital and skilled nursing facility treatment for an astounding total of over 100 days at facilities including UTMB, Kindred Hospital Clear Lake, Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital Clear Lake, and Baywind Village Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. Even after that, he needed more home health and therapy. In all, it took over a year and a half for the bedsores to close.
As with any case that Painter Law firm handles, we retained top medical and nursing experts to review the medical records, to help us get to the bottom of what happened to this man.
Our wound care nursing expert noted that Mainland Medical Center nursing staff failed to follow standard procedures of implementing wound prevention measures (like regular turning of the patient), checking the skin once a shift, documenting their findings, and keeping compromised areas dry and clean. In addition, although the patient’s doctor had ordered a special mattress that would reduce pressure and help to prevent pressure sores from developing, the nurses did not follow through to get it in place timely.
In short, we share our nursing expert’s opinion that this man should have never developing pressure sores in the first place. Our medical expert, a hospitalist who cares for post-surgical and rehabilitation patients who are at risk for pressure sores, concluded that our client would not have ever had bedsores without the substandard, negligent care that the Mainland Medical Center nursing staff provided.
We are here to help
When you see how quickly an otherwise healthy man can develop bedsores, with poor nursing care, a few days after a surgery, it really makes you think of the plight of other people who are largely bedridden. If you or someone you care for are the victim of poor post-surgical, hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation care that caused seriously injuries, like a bedsore, then call 281-580-8800, for a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He handles all kinds of medical malpractice cases, including lawsuits against hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and doctors for negligent care that leads to bedsores and other avoidable complications.