Posted on May 12, 2011
Portsmouth Regional Hospital is in hot water over a wrongful death lawsuit, recently filed by Robert Vozzella. Vozzella's 60-year-old wife, Judith, died of infected bedsores, which the suit alleges went untreated.

"Pressure sores," or "decubitus ulcers," occur when a patient is unable to move to release the blood flow near an area of skin that may be closely pressed by bone, such as at the heels, elbows or tailbone. The resulting lack of blood flow creates open sores. In Judith Vozzella's case, fecal matter infected her bloodstream through her bedsores, a condition known as "sepsis." The infection proved to be fatal.

How could this happen? Bed sores are considered to be a preventable condition, especially because detection is not difficult. For patients with limited mobility, hospital caretakers often turn the patient's body, so that no one area of skin is supporting too much pressure for any prolonged time.

Mrs. Vozzella visited the hospital after suffering a stroke. Sedated, she was unable to move for three days. The suit alleges that Dr. Mark C. Sullivan somehow "gave an order that Judith Vozzella not be turned to prevent the formation of bedsores following surgery." After the sores were detected, the hospital apparently did not treat them for three days. After two more months of surgery, the sores became contaminated.

The lawsuit singles out Dr. Sullivan, Dr. George K. Looser, and the Coastal Cardiothoracic & Vascular Associates and Appledore Medical Group.

As a New York attorney who follows cases like these across the country, the important issue to evaluate is whether there were departures from good care that resulted in damage and/or death. The article does not delve into more details and we look forward to hearing more details as they are released.

If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.

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