Hospital owes $10M in bedsore malpractice suit

A jury awarded $10.3 million to the estate of a patient who sued Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center for allowing him to get bed sores, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

This comes at a time when hospital professional liability costs are trending upward, according to Aon.

According to court documents, the hospital cared for Alfred Gonzales after hip surgery in 2006. But employees reportedly did not follow the hospital's protocol for preventing pressure wounds and malnourishment. The hospital also allegedly faked entries in Gonzales' medical record.

Gonzales developed bed sores on his heels, because the hospital failed to screen for and protect against pressure ulcers, which are on the list of hospital-acquired conditions that CMS will not pay for unless they are present on admission. He should have gotten a special mattress and "boots" for his heels.

"They just kind of ignored him," said attorney Tom Rhodes. "Shift after shift after shift, they didn't do what they were supposed to do. After they knew he had a problem, they charted saying there was no problem."

One of the deceased's three lawyers on the case hopes healthcare companies will take note.

Hospital officials were shocked by the size of the verdict and will appeal, the Associated Press reports.

To learn more:
- read The Associated Press article
- here's the Santa Fe New Mexican article

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