A jury in New Jersey has awarded $13.2 million to the family of a woman who died due to nursing home bedsores, which were allegedly caused by neglect and poor care in a Jersey City rehab center.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Mary Dwyer, who died on February 27, 2010. Dwyer had been a resident of Alaris Health’s Harbor View Healthcare Center for just three months while she recovered from a dislocated shoulder, but during that time she collected a slew of new health problems, the family claimed.
According to allegations raised at trial, the 87 year-old Dwyer lost 20 pounds while she was in Alaris, developed large and serious bedsores, had to have nine wound debridements, two bone shavings and also underwent a colostomy which involved manually reinserting her bowels back into her abdomen. The family claimed that the conditions and treatments were all avoidable and due to the substandard care given by the nursing home rehab facility and that Dwyer died a painful and undignified death.
The massive bedsore was the result of Dwyer only being turned about 10 times during the 282 shifts that occurred while she was in the facility, according to the lawsuit.
Harbor View officials denied the allegations and have indicated that they plan to appeal the verdict handed down by the Hudson County jury last week. The 180-bed facility recently received a five-star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but the same year Dwyer died, hundreds of workers went on strike for three days due to low wages.
Also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores, bedsores can develop in a nursing home as a result of a lack of blood flow to an area of the skin caused by prolonged pressure on one area of the body. They are most commonly found in places with prominent bones beneath thin layers of skin, such as the heels, elbows and tailbone.
Residents with limited mobility, who have trouble or are unable to move independently, face the greatest risk of the painful and potentially life-threatening pressure ulcers.
Most medical organizations consider bed sores to be a preventable condition that can be treated if detected early through proper diligence on the part of medical staff and care providers. Failure to prevent, identify, or properly treat bedsores can result in life-threatening infections that enter the bloodstream, known as sepsis.