Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pressure Sore Kills

Verda Henry, a 73-year-old life-long NY resident, entered a County nursing home in 2005 after she fell and injured her arm, thinking she would receive therapy and be home in a month.

Two years later, after repeated denied requests to go home, the grandmother of 15 died in the New Rochelle nursing home, partially because of a horrific, infected bedsore, according to her family and court records.

Henry's daughter, Patricia, filed a Nursing Home lawsuit against the Sutton Park Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and said she and her children visited her normally active mother every day at Sutton Park, often for eight hours.

"There would be a nurse and she would run between floors and they had no time," Henry said. "Nobody checks on her. Nobody feeds her. Every time we asked to take her home there was a reason we couldn't."

One day, Patricia Henry went to change her mother's gown and noticed the bedsore, already in an advanced stage, over her mother's tail bone.

Within days the sore was infected and she heard her mother's last words - screams - as doctors scraped at blackened skin.

"You could put your whole hand down in her back," she said. "You could see the bones and spinal cord. It was like raw meat. Mommy screamed until she couldn't scream no more."

An administrator at the home said it could not immediately comment on the case. South Shore Medical Center did not return a call for comment.

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are lesions caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They are largely preventable by making sure a patient is regularly moved or turned every two hours, but are also often fatal once infected.

Patricia Henry's lawyer said there is no systemwide recordkeeping of bedsores, so that patients or families comparing nursing homes can make informed decisions.

Henry said she wants justice for her mother, who died a painful death because of a negligent system.

"I'm sorry I saw it, but I'm glad I saw it," Henry said. "They weren't telling us how bad it was and my mother couldn't tell me anymore."


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