The Buffalo News reported the tragic and preventable death of Frank Williams. Frank Williams died Dec. 21, 2016, from sepsis from pressure ulcers or bedsores he suffered at Safire Rehabilitation at Northtowns. Williams didn’t have any skin breakdown or bedsores when he left Kenmore Mercy Hospital and entered the nursing home for rehabilitation after a stroke. Williams’ case illustrates how vulnerable individuals who go to poorly rated and understaffed nursing homes for rehabilitation can quickly succumb to preventable but lethal ailments like bedsores.
Four months later, when he returned to Kenmore Mercy, the retired ironworker had seven bedsores on the lower half of his body. He died 14 days later from sepsis – an extreme response to infection – according to his death certificate. Hospital records cite infections from bedsores as the most likely cause of the sepsis.
After he arrived, hospital records note, Kenmore Mercy staff discovered bedsores on the lower half of his body, including one with “foul smelling drainage” and greenish gray and black spots, along with dead tissue.
According to hospital medical records, there were bedsores on his lower back, right ankle, right and left heels and right big toe. There were two lesser wounds on his right pelvis and scrotum.
“The sore on his right ankle looked like it was down to the bone,” Mark Williams said.
“They told me this is the worst case of bedsores they have ever seen from that nursing home,” his son, Mark F. Williams Sr., recalled doctors and nurses telling him in the emergency room. “The sores were black. I’d never seen that before. I was shocked. I thought it was the black plague.”
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, occur when a section of the body is pressing against a surface for too long and not repositioned to alleviate the pressure. Several other factors, such as nutrition, the surface on which the body is pressing and moisture also contribute to bedsores, according to experts in the prevention of these injuries. Yet there is consensus among nursing homes and other health care providers that the vast majority of pressure injuries can be prevented. In fact, the nationwide average for pressure ulcers is less than 5% in most facilities.