Not Guilty after decubitus ulcer

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Anne Scrivner Kuban and Elizabeth Jaci
Demand: $750,000
Asked: $3.3 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

Plaintiff was the decedent’s estranged wife. The decedent (M-51) was 420 pounds with a BMI of 55 when he entered the hospital for gastric bypass surgery. His co-morbidities included diabetes, congestive heart failure, a permanent trach, hypertension, anemia, sleep apnea and a tongue reduction. The decedent consented to the surgery after being informed of all of the risks and complications. The co-defendant surgeon performed the procedure without any complications. The decedent’s post-operative course was without complication until post-operative day 2 when the decedent’s oxygen saturations and heart rate dropped to below 60 every time after the decedent was moved and/or re-positioned. The decedent spent 21 days in the ICU and 34 days in the hospital.

The estate through Plaintiff contended that the decedent developed a large, unstageable decubitus ulcer on his sacrum due to defendants’ failure to turn and re-position the decedent every two hours pursuant to hospital protocol and the standard of care and their failure to appropriately treat and debride the decedent’s decubitus ulcer thereby allowing it to increase in size and depth until it became infected. The defense argued that the decedent’s clinical condition was critical, any and all preventative measures (heel protectors and a rotating Bari Air therapeutic bed) were implemented. Continual re-positioning and/or turning would have further jeopardized the decedent’s clinical condition as evidenced by the decedent’s continuous drop in oxygen saturations and heart rate when he was turned. The decedent died of unrelated cause 3 years later.