Staten Island Man Awarded $5.4 Million in Bedsore Lawsuit

A Staten Island man was just awarded a multi-million dollar settlement following a debilitating and ongoing bout with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/nursing_home_abuse_statistics">bedsores that began at Staten Island University Hospital. Staten Island Live (SI Live) wrote that the formerly active Robert Messina, 63, has been confined to a wheelchair because of bedsores so severe they caused osteomyelitis in his hip bone, which, then, caused a fracture that cannot be corrected because of the infection.

Messina developed the bed sores about five years ago. In addition to the wheelchair, Messina can no longer work, had to sell his boat, and can no longer travel, said SI Live.

Although pleased with the verdict, Messina said he’d “give every dime back to walk,” in a telephone interview, quoted SI Live. “I can’t drive. You don’t have any freedom,” he added. The St. George Supreme Court jury award Messina $5.4 million last week in a medical malpractice lawsuit, finding Staten Island University Hospital liable for 75 percent of the case for a total of $4 million.

Golden Gate Rehabilitation and Health Care Center was found 25 percent liable, but because it was not a named party in the case, will not be paying Messina. Messina, said SI Live, received care at the rehabilitation center. Staten Island University Hospital plans on appealing the decision.

On August 31, 2006, Messina, who was 58 at the time, suffered a “health episode,” said SI Live. Although he left the house to go to work, his wife, Carol, found him outside, with his shirt off and no car keys. Messina was taken to Staten Island University Hospital by ambulance, was intubated, and sedated; he allegedly had no marks on his skin said SI Live. At the time of his admission, he was diagnosed with encephalopathy (brain dysfunction, including altered mental status) and was suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, gallstones and high cholesterol, according to court papers, said SI Live.

Hospital records indicate that, four days later, on September 4, 2006, Messina suffered from severe bedsores near his lower spine, according to court records. The sores continued to worsen and Messina was soon diagnosed with ulcers in his mouth, buttock, genitals, and ankles, which were treated with topical creams and debridement of dead or infected skin, wrote SI Live, citing court records.

By October 2006, Messina was on a ventilator and transferred to Golden Gate. At that time, only the spinal and ankle bedsore had healed, said SI Live. Messina was transferred between the two facilities a number of times over the next year, suffering from respiratory failure, muscle fiber breakdown, and kidney failure; he was also treated at the hospital when his spinal ulcer exploded, which was when it was discovered that he had osteomyelitis—a serious bone infection—in his right hip, wrote SI Live.

Infection control is a serious issue in medical facilities. As a matter-of-fact, Science Daily reported that 15 percent of nursing homes in the United States received deficiency citations for the ways in which they manage infection, which have led to increased morbidity and mortality rates, resulting in some 400,000 fatalities annually.

We recently wrote that a study of a national sampling of medical claims submitted from 2000 through 2008 revealed that an infection resulting post-operatively or a pressure ulcer from a medical error occurred in 90 percent of the cases, representing the most common and costliest medical injuries from medical errors.

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