Hip surgery patient develops multiple pressure sores after hospital fails to take preventative measures

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Recent Cases: Medicine

May/June 2011, Volume 26, No. 3

Hip surgery patient develops multiple pressure sores after hospital fails to take preventative measures 

Lucero v. St. Vincent Hosp., N.M., San Miguel Co. Dist., No. D412-CV-2008-00116, Feb. 18, 2011.

Alfred Gonzalez, 57, suffered from cognitive impairment after brain surgery. After falling and sustaining a fractured hip, he underwent orthopedic surgery at St. Vincent Hospital. While hospitalized, Gonzalez developed pressure sores on both heels. Staff applied a multi-podus boot and transferred him to another facility.

Gonzalez remained lethargic and was later transferred back to St. Vincent. About two weeks later, he was moved to the Vida Encantada nursing home, where his condition continued to deteriorate over the next several months. He was discharged to his brother’s care suffering from multiple pressure sores, which took 14 months to heal.

A representative for Gonzalez, who later died, filed suit against St. Vincent Hospital and Vida Encantada’s owners and operators, alleging failure to provide adequate nutrition and care, including proper prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Gonzalez’s pressure sores. The plaintiff alleged that the hospital should have provided Gonzalez with a special mattress or boots for his heels before his wounds developed. Additionally, suit claimed that Vida Encantada had insufficient staffing, among other problems.

Vida Encantada settled before trial for $25,000. The jury awarded about $10.35 million against St. Vincent Hospital. The award includes $9.75 million in punitive damages.

Plaintiff’s Counsel

Ethan Shaw, Austin, Tex.

John Cowart, Austin, Tex.

J. Thomas Rhodes,

Wayne Colodny, and

Laura Pazin Porter, all of San Antonio, Tex.

Lee R. Hunt, Santa Fe, N.M.


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