Sanford vs. Alden - Wentworth Rehabilitation

Introduction:

This unfortunate case escalated very quickly and dramatically. Over the course of just a few months, upon being admitted to a nursing home, Henry King developed bed sores and died.

Filed: August 12, 2016

Jurisdiction: Circuit Court of Illinois, Cook County

Category: Nursing Home; Bed Sores; Negligence; Survival; Wrongful Death

Plaintiff: Rhonda Sanford

Defendant(s): Alden - Wentworth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, Inc., Alden Wentworth, L.L.C., Alden Wentworth, and Alden Wentworth Rehab & HCC

Summary:

Henry King was admitted to the Alden-Wentworth Rehab and Health Center on approximately February 1, 2015. His representatives later claimed that he did not have bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) upon his admittance but that he was at risk for developing them and the nursing home staff should have known that. Regardless, King ended up developing multiple bed sores and they even became infected. On July 28, 2015, King was sent to St. Bernard hospital for treatment of this complication. Doctors there determined that he had sepsis, acute hypoxic respiratory failure, and septic shock. Despite his physicians best efforts to save King, including performing debridement of his necrotic bed sores, he died on September 18, 2015. Following King’s passing, the administrator of King’s estate, Rhonda Sanford, brought an action to recover damages pursuant to various Illinois laws.

Claims and Damages:

As independent administrator of King’s estate, Sanford brought various claims against the owners/operators of the nursing care facility where King was staying prior to his death. The specific causes of action centered on negligence, survival, and wrongful death. However, the claims constitution these arguments were similar and even generally shared from each other. Here are some of the main points: the defendants did not adequately assess King’s health status; the defendants did not adequately plan for or prevent against the development of bed sores in King; the defendants did not adequately treat King’s bed sores or prevent their infection; the defendants generally did not provide King with adequate health care; and the defendants neglected King and violated Illinois laws in other various ways.

Due to this improper conduct, the plaintiff claimed the following damages:

  • The death of Henry King
  • Various healthcare and funeral/burial expenses
  • Attorneys fees and actual damages
  • King’s conscious pain and suffering
  • Personal and financial losses to King’s estate

Insights:

  • One initial point of conflict in this case might be whether or not the decedent actually had bed sores when he first entered Alden-Wentworth. Normally, defendants in this situation will argue that the patients did because then they can maintain that their conduct did not contribute to the development of bed sores. Here, Henry’s estate will have to rule out that possibility for them to continue.
  • One potential indicator of success for the claimant is the rapid descent in health of the decent. Normal people would rationalize that that kind of decline would not happen but for misconduct. Therefore, the plaintiff might be starting off with an advantage especially if he can point to the typical stay and health of other residents.
  • This case in part involves the death of Henry King. Many people forget that estates can recover for the pain and suffering that decedents underwent prior to passing. This might be overlooked when the circumstances of the case are a quick and sudden death like here but it should not be forgotten.

Related Laws/Cases:

  • 210 ILCS 45/
  • 210 ILCS 45/3-601
  • 210 ILCS 45/3-602
  • 755 ILCS 5/27-6
  • 740 ILCS 180/1
  • 42 USCA §1396r

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