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Family pursues complaint against Ohio nursing home

An Ohio family is seeking answers about the treatment an elderly relative received in a Colerain nursing home after she nearly died of complications associated with a pressure ulcer.

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, develop from a breakdown in a patient's skin and muscle tissue -- and occur almost exclusively because a patient is left lying in one position for extended periods of time. Some patients, like diabetics, are more prone to them than others.

The patient in question, a 71-year-old woman, entered the Liberty Nursing Center of Colerain following a stroke. While the records show that her doctor prescribed a specific cushion to prevent her from developing pressure sores while in her wheelchair and supplements designed to help her body fight off the condition, those were never provided.

After family members became aware of the woman's condition -- which included a pressure sore nearly three inches deep on her spine that left bone visible -- they complained to the Ohio Department of Health. An inspection discovered that their relative wasn't the only victim of neglect. At least three other residents had never received physician-ordered treatments. Two of those patients were found to be in immediate danger and moved to a hospital.

The administrator of the nursing home issued a blanket statement asserting their quality of care and saying only, "We have a 5-star rating in our quality measure determined by Medicare and Medicaid Services."

That may be so, but Medicare and Medicaid officials look at aggregated data and summary statistics -- not individual patients. It's easier to look good when nobody is looking too closely.

If your family member has suffered from pressure sores, that's often a sign of neglect. Don't accept the nursing home's explanations without a thorough investigation. Often, the only way to effectively hold a nursing home accountable is through aggressive litigation.

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