Legal Issues

Karen Zulkowski's picture

by Karen Zulkowski DNS, RN, CWS

There are several issues in pressure ulcer definitions. For example, exactly what is the definition for eschar? What is an unavoidable pressure ulcer? How can you decide it really was unavoidable?

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Mary Ellen Posthauer's picture

By Mary Ellen Posthauer RDN, CD, LD, FAND

Frequently I am asked to review medical records to determine if an individual’s pressure ulcers failed to heal because of inadequate or inappropriate nutritional care. The majority of the cases involve long-term care facilities and the patients are older adults who had unintended weight loss (UWL) and pressure ulcers. After devoting 35 years as a consultant dietitian to nursing homes, I am well aware of the challenges faced by providers as they strive to provide care for our frail elderly.

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Jonathan Rosenfeld's picture

By Jonathan Rosenfeld, JD

Whether the development of a bedsore, also commonly referred to as a pressure ulcer, is the fault of the nursing home or an existing medical condition, the actions taken by the health care facility after the sore is discovered can have a large impact in a lawsuit if the patient suffers from complications arising from the sore. How a nursing home treats patients with pressure sores is just as important during litigation as whether the home is responsible for the development of the sores to begin with. For this reason, nursing facilities should not implement treatment protocol that gives the impression that they are killing the patient or doing nothing to prevent the patient’s death.

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Jonathan Rosenfeld's picture

By Jonathan Rosenfeld, JD

Even as an injury lawyer who sometimes feels he has seen it all, I am surprised by the tricks that I have seen used by some nursing homes in order to avoid responsibility for their actions. It is unbelievable how poorly kept the patients’ charts generally are in a large number of nursing facilities to begin with, but if a facility feels that there is impending litigation in its future, they may stoop so low as to alter those records in order to cover up its actions. This type of behavior is both unethical and illegal and I am both saddened by the tactic and happy to see punitive damages awarded in cases involving such nursing homes.

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Karen Zulkowski's picture

By Karen Zulkowski DNS, RN, CWS

Last month I talked about the issues that occurred during my husband’s knee surgery. This month I want to bring the focus back to lawsuits and how they arise. What are the implications for the patient and family, and how does palliative wound care fit in?

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By Kathi Thimsen RN, MSN, WOCN

The responses that I have been getting from the blogs are terrific! It is wonderful to know that clinicians are interested, questioning, and wanting to know what is in products. So, now in 2012, we continue this blog with the topic of products and practice.

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By Karen Zulkowski DNS, RN, CWS

Part 4 in a series discussing the process of litigation in patient care lawsuits

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

Glenda Motta's picture

By Glenda Motta RN, MPH

In 1978, I was hired to develop a comprehensive discharge planning program at an inner city hospital in Washington, D.C. Way before DRGs and any reimbursement limits were placed on hospitals, this facility knew it had a problem. 40 patients had a length of stay that exceeded 60 days! Can you imagine that scenario today?

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By Karen Zulkowski DNS, RN, CWS

How do you act when giving a deposition? It’s not something we covered in school. As I said last month, you probably won’t remember the plaintiff (patient). You may have only taken care of the person once or twice or when they were your patient. They may have gone back and forth to ICU and different units, or between the hospital and nursing home, so you had limited contact with them.

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By Karen Zulkowski DNS, RN, CWS

Being involved in a lawsuit is never fun. However, if your facility is sued because a patient developed a pressure ulcer, you may have to testify. Pressure ulcers are the second most common reason for medical lawsuits. The facility and physicians are usually the ones targeted for monetary damages, but everyone that has taken care of the patient, the family that brought the lawsuit, and experts hired by both sides will have to be deposed.