An Ontario man whose family said he was “rotting alive” from a massive bedsore has died from complications related to the wound.
Bob Wilson from Burlington, Ont. died in palliative care on Saturday. He was 77.
A coroner determined that his primary cause of death was an infection related to a gaping pressure ulcer on his backside, his daughter Linda Moss said.
“To be honest, it’s a bit of a relief that he’s no longer suffering,” Moss told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday.
Wilson was admitted to Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington six months ago after a serious fall. In April, he was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital for surgery, which is when doctors found the horrific bedsore. By that point, it had gone black.
Wilson’s family soon learned that an infection had burrowed deep into Wilson’s bones and blood.
“And that’s why he went into palliative care -- because there was nothing more they could do for him,” Moss said.
Now the family is left with major questions about how staff at the Joseph Brant Hospital allowed the bedsore to go unnoticed.
“For our sanity and peace of mind, we want a little bit more clarity on who, what and why, because we didn’t know about this pressure ulcer and we should’ve. Because we could’ve done something about it, or helped,” Moss said.
The hospital CEO met with the family last week, a few days before Wilson’s death, and apologized for what happened, Moss said. An investigation is underway.
Moss said the hospital has described the case as “a big miscommunication breakdown on all levels.” Even so, she commended the hospital for doing a sweep of the facility, which she says found 21 other patients with bedsores.
“I hope this is not just a Band-Aid effect, but they are going to change protocol and procedures,” she said.
After CTV News first reported on Wilson’s case in May, Joseph Brant Hospital released a statement outlining an action plan for treating patients with pressure ulcers. The hospital committed to conduct quarterly prevalence studies to “increase surveillance and prevention of hospital-acquired pressure wounds.”
“It is our commitment to be open and transparent with our community and to reassure the people whom we serve that we provide safe, high quality care. As well, we are committed to continuous learning and improvement in our daily practices and providing leadership in raising awareness of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers,” hospital president and CEO Eric Vandewall wrote in the statement.
Bedsores are caused by pressure on the skin from lying or sitting in one position for extended periods of time. They are almost always preventable through proper assessment and care.
More than 10,000 cases of bedsores were reported to the Ontario Ministry of Health between 2016 and 2017, the most up-to-date numbers on record. During the same year, 24,500 cases were reported by long-term care facilities. However, each case ranges in severity.
In the wake of her father’s death, Moss said she and her sisters are working to become patient advocates. They’ve already spoken with the Angel Project, a charity that works to make hospital stays more comfortable for patients.
“Our father is gone and it’s devastating what happened to him. But if we can help other families to make sure they don’t go through what we went through, then we need to do it,” she said.
“Sometimes it takes a tragedy to provoke change.”