A New Mexico jury awarded $7.75 million to a 44-year-old man who developed severe pressure ulcers due to negligent treatment in intensive care.
Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C. served as co-counsel for the subsequent injury claim, Case No. D-202-cv-2012-04942 in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque).
The $7.75 million jury award against Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque was composed of:
- a $4 million award to the plaintiff for compensatory damages.
- a $1.5 million award to the plaintiff’s wife-turned-caretaker, Tammy Lee Bruyere, for compensatory damages of her own.
- a $2.25 million punitive damage award to both plaintiffs.
Wound develops in 6 days
The plaintiff, Michael Webb, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital in 2011. He remained in a semi-conscious state for many days and depended on the medical staff at Presbyterian for all of his care needs. Within only six days, a skin wound had developed on his sacrum due to a general lack of repositioning of his body while he was unable to reposition himself. Five days later, a wound care specialist examined the wound and found that it had become a severe Stage 4 pressure ulcer.
The plaintiff’s attorneys focused on Presbyterian Hospital’s own patient safety policies and procedures for a significant portion of the trial. Its regulations require patients who are at risk for pressure sores to be repositioned once every two hours, or more frequently if necessary, with the specific intent of preventing pressure ulcers from forming.
Due to generally neglectful care, Mr. Webb was left in the same position for long stretches at a time. The end result was the formation of a large, painful pressure ulcer that required additional medical treatment, including painful debridement processes that removed skin, flesh, and damaged tissue in large amounts. His ulcer has still not fully healed.
Jurors who spoke with legal counsel after the verdict was given noted that the multimillion award was not only to fairly compensate the plaintiff but to also reinforce the need for adequate patient safety training at Presbyterian Hospital and other medical groups.