We recently settled a lawsuit involving a 75-year-old nursing home patient who was hospitalized after staff at the nursing home observed that he had diminished bowel sounds, a swollen abdomen, and abdominal discomfort. Once at the hospital, he was diagnosed with a ruptured bowel, peritonitis (infection of the lining of the stomach), and sepsis (systemic bacterial infection). The patient died within 24 hours of the time he was hospitalized.
The patient's family, which consisted of his sister and brother, claimed the nursing home's staff failed for over one week to observe or obtain medical attention for the patient's declining condition, which the family's experts contended should have included increasing abdominal distention (swelling), decreasing bowel sounds, increasing abdominal discomfort, and less frequent bowel movements. The nursing home responded with testimony from experts who claimed the patient's bowel rupture was an acute, spontaneous event that could not have been predicted, prevented, or treated by the nursing home or other health care providers. For support, the nursing home's experts relied on the absence in the weeks before the hospitalization of any mention in the facility's records of a decline in his condition.
The case settled for mid six figures. The precise terms of the settlement are confidential at the nursing home's request.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Thu, May 1, 2008
by Robert Carter