It didn’t take a medical expert to tell that something was seriously wrong when five women looked at their mother’s surgical site before they picked her up from the nursing home where she’d been recuperating.

The site where her pacemaker had been implanted was angry looking and seemed infected. The 82-year-old woman told her children and the nurses that she was in pain, and the pain was spreading out from the surgical site down her arm. Her lips were blistered and her throat hurt.

Somehow, that wasn’t enough to convince the nursing home’s doctor to bother to step into her room to visit her even once in the 20 days she’d been there. When she’d been taken to his office for a scheduled visit two days before her discharge date, he never bothered to examine her wound.

Only his signature on the bottom of a fax sent by the nursing home indicating that he’d read it showed that he was aware of his patient’s pain. He didn’t provide any guidance on wound care to the nurses or prescribe any medications,

Despite the condition of her surgical site, the nursing home discharged her. Eleven days later, the once-spry senior died. A blood infection caused by the untended surgical wound killed her.

While several other parties involved in the case settled out of court with the woman’s family over her wrongful death, the nursing home wouldn’t admit that it had made any errors. Therefore, the family was forced to take the case to trial.

In a jury trial, it was revealed that her care — or lack thereof — probably wasn’t unusual because the nursing home didn’t require its contract physicians to visit the facility.

The jury ultimately sided with the family and set the amount of damages at $2.5 million. On appeal, the nursing home’s parent company, which had been held equally liable with the actual nursing home for the woman’s death, was released from liability. The nursing home was still held accountable.

If you feel that a doctor’s negligence caused your relative’s death, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: Albuquerque Journal, “Lawsuit verdict vindicates grieving NM family,” Maggie Shepard, May 06, 2017