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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Nursing home residents face all sorts of risks during their stay at long-term care facilities, but none may present a more sizeable or imminent danger than Kennedy Terminal Ulcers (KTUs).

These fast-growing pressure ulcers may spell death for a patient in just a few hours—usually the same amount of time they take to form.

Kennedy Terminal Ulcers are often pear-shaped and found in the lower back area of the spine (sacral/coccygeal section). Clinical wound specialists identify these pressure ulcers by their purple color, which is a sign of terminal illness when the skin fails to remain intact.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represent patients and families of victims who have suffered because of Kennedy ulcers in Illinois nursing homes.

While KTUs is a particular pressure sore case, the medical condition implicates similar medical issues.

Do you have more questions or concerns? Call our nursing home abuse lawyers anytime and with no obligation at (888) 424-5757.

Nursing Home Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Lawsuit

Kennedy Terminal Ulcers in Illinois Nursing Home Residents

The skin is the body’s largest organ, representing about 15% of total body weight. Like other organ systems affected by aging, intact skin integrity requires constant blood flow and nutrients for survival.

Any sudden onset and rapid progression of a pressure ulcer or wound infection could affect the entire body and lead to tissue death at the Kennedy ulcer site.

When Kennedy Terminal Ulcers Form

While they can look similar, Kennedy ulcers are different from a pressure sore or a bed sore, which happen to people who’ve spent days or weeks laying down with little movement and prolonged pressure, usually seen as care neglect.

Additionally, pressure injuries do not arise due to any medical condition. Still, they are caused by the extended pressure placed on areas where a resident lies down without moving, such as posterior calf muscles, lower back, and heels.

The exact cause of Kennedy Terminal Ulcers is unknown, as they can occur suddenly. However, it is understood that it is a sign of near death. Blood and oxygen are mostly passed to the heart and brain during death. Multiple organs in the body can begin to fail when there is a decrease in blood pressure throughout the body.

Kennedy ulcers develop towards the end of a person’s life. Bed sores (also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) form over long periods due to friction, pressure, or shearing.

Sometimes, the doctor or nurse practitioner cannot specifically point to an exact cause of Kennedy terminal ulcers. Yet, they almost always occur simultaneously with skin failure and a person’s overall health decline and death.

Providing Skin Wound Care During the Pressure Ulcer Process

Wound care specialists often identify these pressure ulcers as a sign of general organ, vascular system [1], and skin failure as a part of the dying process.

Of course, many nursing facility patients are battling terminal illnesses and poor health. They are ripe candidates for the emergence of Kennedy ulcers, as they usually precede death or terminal status.

Therefore, doctors should check for underlying issues that typically predict KTUs will emerge to better prevent wound development.

Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Symptoms

Differentiating between Kennedy ulcers and other types of bruises, bed sores, or lesions [2] can sometimes be challenging. Plus, their quick emergence in terminal patients makes identification difficult in the first place.

Yet, Kennedy ulcers do have some distinctive signs and symptoms to alert you to their presence, such as the following:

  • Kennedy ulcers typically develop on a person’s sacrum, the lower triangular spot on the back/pelvis.
  • Kennedy ulcers usually are pear-shaped initially though that might morph into a different shape later.
  • Kennedy ulcers typically have similar colors to other bruised body parts: blue or purple. They become a black necrotic wound as it worsens and reaches their final stages.
  • Kennedy ulcers normally develop very quickly (sometimes in just a few hours), unlike bed sores.

Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Treatment

Most KTUs do not improve or heal because the body does not have enough resources for wound healing. Kennedy ulcers grow as the skin breaks down as part of the dying process – although there are some rare cases in the pediatric population.

As their name suggests, Kennedy ulcers usually signal that a patient has entered a final phase of their life. Comorbidities [3] and a Kennedy ulcer are probably critically threatening a patient’s life. At this point, medical teams normally switch to preserving a person’s quality of life with palliative nursing care.

The focus of wound care should include pressure relief, protection of intact skin, management of wound exudate, odor and pain management, appropriate support surfacesand prevention of wound infection. It is vital to inform family members or caregivers that wound care focuses on comfort instead of healing.

Sample Illinois Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Case Settlements & Verdicts

$300,000 Settlement; Illinois Terminal Ulcer Settlement

The nursing home resident involved in this Illinois case was in her late eighties. She developed a stage IV terminal bed sore just before passing away.

At the time, she also was suffering from several severe health conditions. Her estate brought this action against the nursing home. They alleged the home did not provide appropriate care and sought compensation for pain and expense. In a private settlement, the pair agreed to end the matter for $300,000.

$925,000 Settlement; Illinois Terminal Ulcer Settlement

This dispute emerged and ended relatively quickly. A man in his middle seventies entered an Illinois nursing facility. He was elderly and needed constant monitoring but was otherwise healthy and had no signs of pressure sores.

A few months later, the man died from terminal stage IV bed sore ulcers on the sacral region of his spine. Also, they were infected. The man’s counsel offered that this could have only happened due to the facility’s malpractice and sought compensation for his damages.

Seeking to end the Illinois claim through private agreement, the parties concluded the matter for $925,000.

Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Frequently Asked Questions

Our personal injury attorneys understand that many families have unanswered questions when dealing directly with insurance companies after their loved ones suffered a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer and died from the preventable wound.

A hospice care injury lawyer from our law firm has answered some of those questions below.

Can people survive a Kennedy ulcer, or is it part of the dying process?

Although a Kennedy ulcer can be life-threatening due to complications associated with infection, it is possible to survive if the ulcer is treated immediately with adequate wound care. Still, survival rates are minimal.

Treatment options include medications such as antibiotics and minor surgical procedures, depending on the severity of the case. With early diagnosis and advanced treatments, those patients identified with Kennedy ulcers can fully recover and live healthy lives.

However, Kennedy ulcer patients may experience complications during treatment, such as scarring or further infection caused by surgery or side effects. Therefore, medical professionals must conduct a thorough assessment before beginning any treatment plan for a Kennedy ulcer.

Are Kennedy pressure ulcers preventable?

Kennedy Pressure Ulcers, also known as Stensen’s Duct Fistula, are among the most challenging wounds to prevent and treat due to their nature and location in the bony prominences of the body.

People suffering from a terminal illness are likely to receive extensive care to prevent injury.

Many medical professionals agree that Kennedy pressure ulcer prevention can be best achieved through medication-based treatments, lifestyle changes, and environmental modifications.

Medications such as antifungal creams and antibiotics have been found effective in helping to prevent Kennedy ulcers in those predisposed to them. Staff must also maintain a turning schedule and monitor patients for changes in their overall health.

Proper skin care can help geriatric terminally ill patients facing impending death slow down end-stage skin failure, organ failure, superficial skin loss, and developing pressure ulcers while receiving palliative treatment.

Kennedy pressure ulcers are not preventable if the patient suffers from severe health conditions and another organ failure.

Can I sue if my loved one suffered a Kennedy ulcer at an Illinois nursing facility?

If your family member suffered a Kennedy ulcer while living in an Illinois nursing home, it is possible to take legal action.

Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act [4] and other applicable laws, you have the right to file a formal complaint or lawsuit against the nursing facility if they fail to provide reasonable care and protection.

Plaintiffs could sue in Illinois for Kennedy ulcers if they resulted from negligence or medical malpractice.

  • Negligence is defined as unreasonable conduct for the circumstances. 720 ILCS 5/4-7.
  • Medical malpractice is healthcare rendered below an accepted standard of care. 735 ILCS 5/2-1704. .

How long do I have to sue on behalf of a family member for a Kennedy ulcer in Illinois?

Plaintiffs in Illinois have between one and two years to bring lawsuits for Kennedy ulcer claims depending upon their underlying cause of action. See 735 ILCS 5/13-202; 735 ILCS section 5/13-212(a); 735 ILCS 5/13-209 [5].

That period can be extended in certain circumstances, but this is the presumptive time window to file your Illinois nursing home lawsuit.

Is a Kennedy ulcer considered a pressure ulcer?

There is still debate among clinicians regarding whether a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer is a pressure injury sore.

Some clinicians hold that the Kennedy ulcer is part of the dying process and is not related to pressure injuries. Others state that KTUs have a pressure component and should therefore be staged.

What do I need to sue for damages in an Illinois Kennedy ulcer case?

Illinois cases for nursing home ulcers or bed sores normally require substantial time, money, and expertise. They are a specialized subset of medical malpractice litigation. Consequently, laypeople do not commonly prosecute them.

Fortunately, many firms, including the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, take these on contingency to ensure that victims of abuse get help and recovery without worrying about upfront costs.

Speak to Our Nursing Home Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Lawyers Today

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC has spent years working with victims of nursing home abuse to ensure they receive the relief they need. Nursing home misconduct puts a heavy toll on residents and their families, especially if they involve Kennedy ulcers.

Our “No Win/No-fee” guarantee means you don’t pay a cent unless we win a jury award or obtain a settlement for you and your family.

Start the process today. Set up a free consultation to discuss your legal options with one of our pressure injury lawyers by calling (888) 424-5757.

Resources: [1] Johns Hopkins Medicine, [2], [3], [4], [5]

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