MONTGOMERY, AL – An arbitration panel has ruled that a Montgomery, Alabama nursing home caused the wrongful death of a resident in 2011. Following a week-long arbitration, the panel entered an award of $375,000 against South Haven Nursing Home. The 77-year old resident was admitted to South Haven on January 28, 2011 for the purpose of rehabilitation, and he was expected to return home within thirty days. By the time of his discharge on March 11, 2011, the resident had developed a severe pressure ulcer on his sacrum which became infected. The resident ultimately died on March 31, 2011 as a result of sepsis from the infected pressure ulcer.
The arbitrator found that South Haven breached the standard of care owed to the resident by failing to turn and re-position him and by failing to provide wound treatment as ordered by the resident’s physician. The family of the resident was represented by attorney J.P. Sawyer. “My clients are so grateful that this facility has been held responsible for the neglect their husband and father suffered,” Sawyer said. “He was sent there for physical therapy to get his strength back and he came out with a gaping hole all the way to the bone on his backside – there is no way this should happen in a nursing facility.”
Former Alabama State Medical Examiner, Dr. Jim Lauridson testified that the cause of the wound was unrelieved pressure from lying in the same position for long periods of time. A nurse expert who testified on behalf of the family noted several discrepancies and inconsistencies in the medical record for the resident. For example, the medical record indicated that certain wound care measures were in place even before they had been ordered by the physician.
Sawyer indicates that a key point in the case was when evidence was presented about the wound care nurse’s work schedule. “We were able to use the time cards from the facility to show that the wound care nurse documented that she was providing wound care to the resident on days when she was not even at work,” Sawyer said.