A resident of the Westminster Village Nursing Home in Bloomington, Illinois contracted gangrene after developing a stasis ulcer on his toes. The resident was ultimately admitted to a nearby Bloomington hospital where it was determined that a prolonged course of IV antibiotics and a partial or total foot amputation would be the necessary treatment.
For a week, the staff of Westminster Village failed to notify the family or the resident’s doctor that any wound even existed. By the time that information was properly disseminated, it was far too late to stop the onset of gangrene.
Gangrene is, put simply, the death of living tissue.
It most often occurs in the extremities (fingers and toes) and the treatment is as simple as it is frightening. Dead tissues are dead. They cannot be revived so they must be removed through surgical amputation. Gangrene is typically caused by a lack of blood flow or a bacteriological infection.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with pressure ulcers. Also known as bed sores, these infections are typically caused by poor nutrition, damp conditions, and a failure by nursing home staff to regularly adjust the residents in their care.
Stasis ulcers are different.
Stasis ulcers are believed to be caused by a lack of blood pressure, causing blood to pool in arteries. It’s this lack of blood flow that leads to gangrene, and it’s for this reason that stasis ulcers need to be carefully monitored.
The failure of Westminster Village to properly care for the stasis ulcer thereby allowing it to progress to gangrene is clearly nursing home neglect. On April 26th, a fax report to the resident’s physician indicates “redness, bleeding, and drainage on the last three toes of the right foot.”
No new information was given to the physician or the family until May, when a Licensed Practical Nurse noted “last 3 toes are totally black and draining” with a “foul odor.” Even then, the family and physician were not notified for an additional 12 hours.
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