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Hospital Bedsore Lawsuit Filed Over Death of 60 Year Old Woman

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Maine hospital for allegedly allowing a patient to die from untreated hospital bedsores that became infected with fecal contamination. 

The complaint was filed last month in U.S. District Court by Robert Vozzella, whose wife, Judith, died at Portsmouth Regional Hospital on June 19, 2009. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the hospital’s negligence and breaches of the standards of care led to the death of Vozzella’s 60 year-old wife.

The hospital as well as two physician’s assistants, Mark C. Sullivan and George K. Looser, were named as defendants. The complaint also names the Coastal Cardiothracic & Vascular Associates and Appledore Medical Group.

According to the lawsuit, the hospital failed to treat pressure sores on Judith Vozzella’s backside for three days after they were discovered. She subsequently underwent two months of surgeries, but the sores, also known as decubitus ulcers, became infected due to fecal contamination, ultimately leading to her death, the lawsuit claims.

Robert Vozzella alleges that Sulligan gave an order that Judith Vozzella not be turned to prevent the formation of bedsores following surgery she received after suffering a stroke, leaving her sedated and unable to move for three days. The lawsuit accuses both Sullivan and Looser of doing little to nothing to detect, then treat, the bedsores.

Bedsores can develop in a hospital 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 most often develop in places with prominent bones beneath thin layers of skin, such as the heels, elbows and tailbone. The open sores often afflict nursing home residents and hospital patients with limited mobility who have trouble, or are unable, to move independently.

Most medical organizations consider bed sores to be a preventable condition that are easily 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.

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