Jury awards $5 million punitive damages in nursing malpractice case

A Philadelphia jury has awarded $5 million in punitive damages in a nursing home medical malpractice case. Just a week and a half ago the jury found Hillcrest Convalescent Home, owned by Genesis Healthcare Corp. of Kennett Square, and Jeanes Hospital of Northeast Philadelphia liable for $1 million in damages in the 2008  death of Joe Blango.

The jury's punitive award was for $3.5 million against Hillcrest and $1.5 million against Jeanes, which is part of the Temple University Health System.

In May 2006 Blango, then 73, developed serious bed sores during admissions - first to Jeanes Hospital, and then to Hillcrest, according to court filings. Over the next five weeks Blando contracted infections, became seriously malnourished and dehydrated during hospital and nursing home stays, according to the complaint filed by the lawyers for Blando's estate. The complaint also noted that the man's bed sores became progressively more serious and "led directly to his death" according to the plaintiffs' medical expert.

"Mr. Blango was treated at Jeanes Hospital for five days in May 2006 and again for 3 days in June 2006," said Temple University Health System spokeswoman Rebecca Harmon in a statement. "He was discharged in June 2006 in stable condition - with no complaints, no pain, and normal vital signs. Mr. Blango expired two years later - in April of 2008.  There is not one shred of evidence to support any liability in this case as it relates to Jeanes Hospital, and the contemplation of punitive damages is simply inexplicable."

She added, "we intend to appeal the verdict."

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