Criminal Charges for Bedsore Sepsis Death

While bedsore injures are unfortunately common in nursing homes, they can also occur in home care settings.

Silhouette of raised hands in fists with handcuffs

A pair was arrested for the death of a man from sepsis and infected bedsores, called pressure ulcers

Recently two Vermont residents were charged with crimes for the death of a man at home from infection and bedsores and face up to 70 years in prison, according to a report by the Times Argus.  They were charged with felony involuntary manslaughter, neglect of a vulnerable adult, and Medicaid fraud.

According to the article, the victim was a man who needed full time care due to injuries he’s had since birth.  This is similar to nursing home residents, who may need help moving or changing position. Nursing homes are required by federal and stae regulations and laws to notify designated representatives—and doctors—of significant changes in condition, like bedsores.

The description of the story of lack of care is heart breaking:

The medical examiner spoke with the older Kittredge about his son’s death and about the earlier hospital visit, Nolan said, and that conversation was recorded and shared with police. Shapiro asked the older Kittredge why he didn’t try to get help for his son once he saw the sores weren’t getting better after he was discharged from the hospital. The older Kittredge told Shapiro the sores had been getting better until the last couple of days of his son’s life. Shapiro told police he had seen what the sores looked like during the first hospital visit compared to what they looked like when the younger Kittredge died and they had become “significantly worse.” The older Kittredge told Shapiro he probably should have called a wound-care nurse, but he felt it was his “responsibility” to care for his child. He told Shapiro he thought he was doing his best for his son, “but I guess I wasn’t.”

Caregiving is serious business.  When nursing homes have untrained or too few care givers, the same types of injuries can occur. That’s why we always look for understaffing when investigating nursing home bedsore cases.

One important way to protect elderly skin is frequent repositioning.  Position changes relieve pressure and allow for better blood flow to skin.  At-risk residents should be provided a repositioning schedule such as being turned or moved every couple hours, or even 15 minutes for people at significant risk.  Read more about how to Protecting Elderly Skin.

The caregivers also face fraud charges:

For the fraud allegation, investigators said both the father and Cote were receiving Medicaid money for taking care of the younger Kittredge. Investigators said they should not have been receiving the money because it appeared the pair didn’t provide adequate care.

What do you think about this case, or bedsore prevention in general?  Leave a comment below, and we’ll respond.  Or, if you have a different nursing home case you’d like to discuss, contact us using the confidential contact form at the bottom of the page.

You can read the full article here.

Do you have questions about a possible abuse, neglect, stroke, or heart attack case? Contact us now using this confidential form. Or leave a comment below--but remember the comments are public, not confidential.

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