Sunday, June 27, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas
- Prologue: A breakthrough in transparency
- Reporting is the first of its kind in Nevada
- Health care can hurt you
- Accident took her life, his heart
- Fall proves fatal for elderly patient
- Inadequate care, unspeakable pain
- Scarred for life by mistake in surgery
- Where I Stand: Fascination and frustration in reporting on Las Vegas hospital care
- Editorial: Preventing harm
- Health care leaders discuss Sun report’s findings
- St. Rose Dominican Hospitals to post data on quality
- State presses hospitals for full accounting of preventable injuries
Harmful events glossary
See the results
Share your stories
Tyrone Bush winces as he walks into his lawyer’s office, like he’s stepping barefoot on shards of glass.
He sets a thick foam pad on a chair before gingerly lowering himself to the seat. Beside him is Martha Bush, his wife of 26 years.
In September 2008, Bush underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery at Desert Springs Hospital, but the wounds have not yet healed.
The problem is not his chest. The operation was successful.
It’s the bedsores.
Words can’t capture the horror of severe bedsores, or “decubitus ulcers.”
One of Bush’s bedsores was the size of a salad plate, covering his buttocks and sinking deep to the tailbone, the lawsuit alleges. The bedsores on his heels were bigger than golf balls and to the bone. Almost two years later the sores are healing, but are still craters of exposed flesh surrounded by necrotic skin.
Bush, 60, was working full time as a maintenance man before entering Desert Springs. Now he’s lost his job and is struggling to heal.
For almost two years, his life has been measured by changing dressings and weekly doctor appointments. Often that means debridement — an excruciating process of scraping the dead flesh from the wounds without anesthetic so they can heal from the inside out. With his buttocks exposed, the appointments are as humiliating as they are painful.
Bedsores occur when patients are not turned or moved in bed. The pressure of body weight can cut off the blood flow to the fleshy pressure points on the underside of the body, often the buttocks and heels. Hospital employees are supposed to assist and encourage patients to reposition themselves to prevent bedsores. Hospitals also have special air beds that help shift the patient so no one body part bears the brunt of body weight.
Bush, who is overweight, said he was in a regular hospital bed until the sores were severe. He said nurses did not help shift his weight, and because he suffers from gout, he struggled to move himself.
Even after the bedsores were identified, hospital staff did not address them for about five days, according to the lawsuit the Bushes have filed against Desert Springs.
The legal response by the hospital blames the Bushes for Tyrone’s bedsores, although it includes no detailed explanation of how the sores were caused. Bush consented to care and the hospital did nothing wrong, the defense alleges in its response to the lawsuit. Hospital officials declined to comment further.
Desert Springs is part of Valley Health System locally and owned by Universal Health Services, a for-profit chain based in Pennsylvania.