When a civil lawsuit is settled, both parties can agree on whether or not to disclose various aspects of the lawsuit and subsequent settlement. For example, it is common for high profile cases to include a stipulation that neither party will disclose the specifics of the settlement, leaving the public to guess at the amount and terms of the settlement. However, a recent Illinois nursing home malpractice settlement included more unusual terms: neither party would disclose the names of the other party.
The Cook County nursing home lawsuit arose after an 86 year-old woman developed multiple pressure sores all over her body. Pressure sores are a common problem in many nursing homes and can develop when the nursing home resident is not turned or repositioned often enough. In this particular case, the decedent, who we will call Jane Doe, developed sepsis from the multiple pressure sores around her body and ended up dying ten months later.
Ms. Doe’s family brought a nursing home malpractice lawsuit against the unnamed nursing home facility in which they alleged that the nursing home was negligent in that it had failed to develop an appropriate skin care plan to prevent the breakdown of Ms. Doe’s skin. In addition, the complaint alleged that the nursing home had failed to reposition Ms. Doe in a timely manner and did not keep her developing wounds clean.
Because pressure sores are sometimes unpreventable, in order to prove it was not negligent, the nursing home must simply show that it developed and implemented an appropriate plan of skin care to attempt to prevent further pressure sores. Similarly, in the current nursing home case, the plaintiffs’ primary claim is that the nursing home failed to do so.
The decedent had been admitted to the nursing home following a stroke and was therefore at an increased risk of developing pressure sores because of her diminished muscle control. In addition, Ms. Doe already had a Stage I pressure sore on her tail-bone upon admission to the nursing home, which should have alerted the nursing home staff of her high risk for developing additional pressure sores.
Yet in a matter of just two weeks, Ms. Doe developed additional pressure sores over the rest of her body. These pressure sores were so severe that they required Ms. Doe being transported to a nearby hospital to have them surgically debrided. It was actually while at that hospital that Ms. Doe developed the sepsis that would lead to her death ten months later.
The plaintiffs’ position was that the nursing home should have prevented Ms. Doe’s skin from deteriorating to the point of developing those additional pressure sores, while the defendant nursing home maintained that it had acted within the standard of care. Both parties elected to settle for $500,000 rather than going to trial. And while Ms. Doe’s surviving son and daughter elected not to disclose their names, or the names of the defendant nursing home, they were represented by attorneys Michael F. Bonamarte IV and Margaret Black.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois nursing home negligence cases for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Skokie, Chicago’s Rogers Park, Northlake, Winfield, and Calumet City.
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