A Texas jury has awarded nearly $600,000 to the family of a man who died as a result of an infection from untreated nursing home bedsores.
The nursing home neglect lawsuit was filed by the family of Emilio Gonzalez, a former resident of Retama Manor Nursing Center in San Antonio. Gonzalez died in 2007 at the age of 76 after being hospitalized for pressure ulcers that the family claims the nursing home staff failed to properly treat.
Gonzalez’s family alleged that Retama Manor employees falsified medical records to make it appear that they had checked Gonzalez for bedsores when they had not. They also claimed that Gonzalez suffered from malnutrition and dehydration while at the facility. The lawsuit blamed many of the problems on understaffing at the nursing home, indicating that the employee levels were intentionally kept dangerously low to save the owners money.
The defendants argued that Gonzalez’s death was due to natural deterioration due to lung cancer and other health problems, resulting in his bedsores failing to respond to normal treatment.
Following trial, a jury in the 438th District Court sided with the plaintiffs and awarded $250,000 for pain and suffering, $150,000 for mental pain and anguish, and $192,440 for medical bills. However, according to a report by the San Antonio Express-News, the total award is expected to be reduced to $250,000 due to the Texas tort damages cap.
Bedsores occur 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.