$500,000 Cook County Jury Verdict for Death of Patient from Infected Bedsores


Ethel Bolton had been a resident of Glenshire Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Richton Park, Ill. She was there from 2001 until 2006. During the years 2004 through 2006, she was cared for by internist Dr. Lance Wallace.

On July 7, 2005, Bolton had an abnormal albumin level of 3.2, which is a sign of malnutrition.

Beginning on Sept. 30, 2005, Bolton also had skin breakdowns and bedsores, which worsened over the next four months. On Jan. 29, 2006, Bolton’s daughter, Margaret, noticed at the nursing home that her mother was naked in a backroom in a general state of neglect showing signs of malnutrition, dehydration, emaciation and multiple areas of skin breakdown and bedsores.

Bolton’s daughter called an ambulance. Her mother was taken to St. James Hospital where she was treated for anemia, multiple Stage III and Stage IV bedsores and malnutrition.

Bolton, 84, remained in the hospital until Feb. 22, 2006 and then was transferred to a different nursing home for one week. However, her condition continued to decline, and she was taken to MacNeal Hospital on March 1, 2006 and died on March 3, 2006.

The death certificate listed her cause of death as aspiration pneumonia, sepsis as a consequence of the sacral bedsores and atrial fibrillation.

Bolton’s family filed a lawsuit claiming that Dr. Wallace chose not to properly manage and treat his patient’s bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, diabetes and did not address her abnormal albumin level in July 2005. It was also claimed that Dr. Wallace chose not to prevent her skin from becoming infected and failed to see her every 30 days at the nursing home. Further, it was alleged in the family’s lawsuit that Dr. Wallace chose not to come to the nursing home when he was notified of changes in Bolton’s condition, all of which, it was claimed, led to her sepsis and untimely death.

The family maintained that majority of Dr. Wallace’s visits were in the hospital as he was required to see Bolton there on a daily basis.

The defendants, which included Dr. Wallace’s medical practice, denied that he was negligent in treating Bolton, denied that his actions caused or contributed to her death, claimed that the sole proximate cause of death was aspiration pneumonia and further denied that the bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration and/or uncontrolled diabetes were the reasons that contributed to her death.

The defendants also maintained that Dr. Wallace met the standard of care in treating the patient’s skin ulcers, malnutrition/hydration status and diabetes. Dr. Wallace also attempted to shift the blame to a wound care doctor arguing that this doctor was solely responsible for treating Bolton’s bedsores. Dr. Wallace also presented evidence that the Medicare monthly billing sheets showed that the wound care and nutrition status was being adequately treated. In conclusion, defendants maintained that Bolton’s pre-existing health conditions were the cause of putting her into the end stage of her life. Dr. Wallace stated that Bolton suffered from severe dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure and a multitude of other co-morbidities.

The jury was asked to return a verdict of $1,471,979. There was no offer made by the defendants before trial. The jury’s verdict of $500,000 was made up of the following damages:

Survival Act

• $125,000 for disability;
• $203,021 for pain and suffering; and
• $171,979 for medical expenses.

The jury found the defendants not guilty on the wrongful death count of the family’s lawsuit.

The attorneys representing the family of Ethel Bolton were Stephanie Nathanson and Michael Peterson.

Estate of Ethel Bolton v. Dr. Lance Wallace, et al., No. 07 L 10614 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Oak Forest, Chicago (Lakeview, Andersonville, Albany Park, Jefferson Park, Hyde Park), Oak Park, Park Ridge, River Forest, Round Lake Beach, Lake Forest and Lisle, Ill.

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