Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Bedsores and Christopher Reeves

If you live in central Florida and watch any television, you see a large number of ads for trial lawyers. There are so many about bedsores for residents of nursing homes that one is led to consider a bedsore as something akin to an uncashed winning lottery ticket; just call the right lawyer to cash in.

I suspect that most people don't know very much about bedsores other than that folks who cannot move around a lot tend to get them. The lawyers here in Florida would have you believe that any bedsore should lead to a lawsuit against a nursing home and/or a generous settlement. I've wondered how many folks have started visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes primarily if not solely to see if they have hit the tort jackpot.

But what does any of this have to do with Christopher Reeves. Well, it turns out that Reeves died due to complications of a bedsore (also called a pressure wound). Here is someone who, although susceptible to bedsores due to his medical condition, had enough money to get the best and most complete care possible. So, even with probably 3 or 4 full time assistants, Reeves managed to pick up a bedsore and it got bad enough that it killed him. Certainly, no normal nursing home can provide the equivalent of a few hundred thousand dollars in staff time for each resident. So, once again, the greed of the tort lawyers becomes evident.

So what happens when any bedsore leads to a financial windfall for the relatives of the nursing home resident? The costs of that windfall (much of which goes to the lawyers) have to be paid by the users of the services of the nursing home. In the short run, these results in higher prices. If the lawsuit abuses continue, that fact will ultimately be reflected in a reduction in availability of nursing care services at any price. I wonder if the family of Christopher Reeves is planning to file a lawsuit against his caregivers?


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