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Gulf Health Care Center Sued for Wrongful Death of Elderly Man

Elder abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report on a particularly egregious story of malpractice and elder negligence that occurred at Gulf Health Care Center in Port Arthur, Texas. The family of 66-year-old Levi Washington Jr., recently filed a lawsuit against the facility for allowing the man to develop severe pressure ulcers, which eventually caused his death.

Washington was admitted to Gulf Health in March 2012, and within two month became so severely dehydrated and his blood so infected from the bedsores that he died of aspiration pneumonia. His family now alleges that they and Washington himself experienced mental anguish, physical pain, disfigurement and racked up medical debt due to the inadequate care at the facility.

At the time of his death, staff at Gulf Health diagnosed Washington with sepsis from the severity of his bedsores, severe malnutrition, and dehydration. In their lawsuit his family claims Gulf Health employees failed to treat and prevent his pressure ulcer and failed to adequately follow the guidelines for elder care as defined under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. Among its provisions, the Act requires sufficient staffing levels in American nursing homes at all times by employees who have properly trained and supervised.

What is most disturbing about this case is the rapidity of the man’s decline. The suit states that just two weeks after the man was admitted to Gulf Health he underwent a wound assessment and his family discovered he had a Stage III sacral pressure ulcer. According to the Mayo Clinic, by the time a pressure ulcer has reached the third stage the amount of skin loss has begun to reveal fat, have a crater-like appearance, and has some yellowing dead tissue surrounding it.

His wound was checked again one week later, by which time the amount of dead and dying tissue had multiplied rapidly, enough to quality it a Stage IV, the most severe stage of bedsore. The tissue had become so dead it appeared black, and parts of his muscles and bone started showing.

He was admitted to the Medical Center of Southeastern Texas in April 2012, just one month after arriving at Gulf Health. His medical charts showed that he had a life-threatening sodium imbalance and a urinary tract infection. Sodium imbalances can be caused by severe dehydration and, although Washington was successfully stabilized and returned to Gulf Health, he was taken back to the hospital another week later.

Upon his second admission his had health worsened so much that he developed pneumonia, had a high fever, severe blood infections, and his bedsores were filled with pus. Inexplicably, once his condition was stabilized, he was returned back to the nursing home. Just a few days later he was rushed to the Emergency Room at the same hospital, and after discussing his options with his family, was transferred to hospice for final care.

The above-mentioned Nursing Home Reform Act was written after a 1986 study was conducted at the request of Congress. Among its findings, the Institute of Medicine reported that nursing home residents were being systematically abused, neglected, and mistreated in various forms and facets. The Act required sweeping reforms in the industry throughout the country to ensure the civil rights and liberties of the American elderly were being protected.

Specifically, the Act was meant to ensure nursing home residents were receiving the highest quality care to enable them to achieve the highest possible physical, mental, emotional, and psychological well-being. The language of the law even includes a Residents’ Bill of Rights, which every family with a loved one in a nursing home should be well-informed of.

Nursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have been working on these types of cases for over two decades, and have the resources and ingenuity to successfully argue any case of injury against a resident of a skilled nursing facility. Contact one of our skilled attorneys today if you have any questions regarding a potential case. We offer free, no-obligation legal consultations to clients nationwide.