June 5, 2016

By: Kimberly Houghton

NASHUA — St. Joseph Hospital and a local nursing home are being sued for the alleged wrongful death of an 87-year-old veteran who died five years ago after developing pneumonia.

Byam “Bing” Whitney Jr. of Nashua died in 2011 from sepsis caused by bedsores, according to court documents on file at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.

Whitney’s family filed a civil lawsuit against St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua and Kindred Healthcare, Inc. at Greenbriar Terrace in Nashua.

The lawsuit claims medical staff failed to discover the bed sores during early stages of development, failed to document the condition of the sores and failed to implement pressure-relieving devices in a timely manner, among other allegations.

The nursing home was allegedly understaffed, and as a result of its negligence, Whitney suffered harm including “disfigurement, pressure sores, infection, conscious pain and suffering, and his death,” states the lawsuit.

Jury selection for the civil suit is scheduled to take place today, with opening arguments on tap for Tuesday. Attorneys David J. Hoey of North Reading, Mass., and Benjamin Gideon of the Berman & Simmons law firm in Maine, represent the Whitney family. Attorney Bradley Holt of Devine Millimet in Manchester is representing the defendants.

Whitney was admitted to St. Joseph Hospital on March 20, 2011, with dehydration and pneumonia, reporting problems of shortness of breath and thick tan sputum, according to court records.

He remained at the hospital for one week where he developed three pressure sores on his buttocks and sacrum, says court documents. Whitney, who also suffered with dementia, was then transferred to Kindred’s Greenbriar facility for further rehabilitation and to return home.

“He was noted by Greenbriar to be at high risk for pressure sores,” says the lawsuit, adding Whitney was dependent on caregivers for all of his activities of daily living.

The lawsuit claims Whitney’s bedsores were manageable and could have healed with proper treatment, but eventually became infected and resulted in sepsis, “a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs,” states court records.

He died on April 25, 2011, after being readmitted to St. Joseph Hospital with sepsis with metabolic encephalopathy.

“Greenbriar Nursing Home was negligent in its care and treatment of Mr. Whitney … the staff at Greenbriar Nursing Home failed to give care that met professional standards of quality to prevent Mr. Whitney from having negative health care consequences,” alleges the lawsuit.

Employees are accused of failing to document whether Whitney was having pain on his weekly pressure ulcer report, failing to show that they provided appropriate pressure-relieving devices, failing to prevent him from developing multiple avoidable bedsores and failing to prevent worsening of sores, states the claims by Whitney’s family.

The family is seeking compensation deemed appropriate by the court to compensate for Whitney’s personal injuries, medical bills, pain, suffering, death, attorney fees and lawsuit costs.

According to Whitney’s obituary, Whitney served in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. He worked as a stockbroker in Boston, enjoyed classical music and played the bagpipes.

Link to original article in the New Hampshire Union Leader