Memorial Hospital faces six lawsuits for related medical negligence “Never Events”
February 23, 2010
Six families are in the process of filing suit against Memorial Hospital for neglect and negligence that allowed patients to contract decubitus ulcers (bedsores) that led to complications ranging from disfigurement to death. The United States Department of Health and Human Services classifies bedsores as a “Never Event.” According to the National Quality Forum, “Never Events” are errors in medical care that are clearly identifiable, preventable and serious in their consequences for patients and that indicate a real problem in the safety and credibility of a health care facility.
Bedsores are caused by unrelieved pressure to the skin that cuts off blood circulation to the affected area. Parts of the body where bedsores most commonly develop when a patient is not moved, turned, kept dry and clean or given proper nutrition while confined to a hospital bed, are the sacrum, coccyx, heels, elbows and ankles.
Preventing bedsores is a standard of care universally known by and applied to all medical care facilities in the United States. Although bedsores have been commonly associated with nursing home neglect, studies show that the problem is increasingly being seen in hospitals. A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality cites that the numbers of hospital patients that develop pressure sores has increased by more than 80% from 1993 to 2006 and that pressure ulcer related stays totaled $11 billion in hospital costs. The study further states that compared to all other medical conditions, hospital stays due to the development of bedsores are more often discharged to long-term care facilities and more likely to result in death.
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The Memorial patients represented in the six lawsuits recently filed include both men and women, ranging in age from 42 to 82. They all contracted injurious bedsores while being treated for non-related conditions, three of them while in the ICU at Memorial. Their families are all represented by Attorneys Thomas Edwards and Eric Ragatz of the Jacksonville trial law firm Edwards & Ragatz. Attorney Edwards comments: “Bedsores are so preventable and inexcusable that in 2008 Medicare and Medicaid ceased paying for that complication of hospital stays.”
Attorney Ragatz expresses a core issue in the multiple cases against Memorial Hospital: “Bedsores are an egregious demonstration of a hospital operating below the standard of care. The government says that they are a preventable “never event” comparable to operating on the wrong side of the body during surgery. It is very concerning to have this many related cases stem from the same medical facility. In addition to filing these six cases, our firm is now investigating several others where bedsores became a health and life-threatening complication of hospitalization at Memorial.”