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April 16, 2014

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Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas:

After surgery, an injury uncured

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Leila Navidi

Sern Englestead developed a large pressure sore on his buttocks after heart surgery at Sunrise Hospital in January 2009. He continues to receive treatment for the wound.

Do No Harm: Sern Englestead

Sern Englestead developed a large pressure sore on his buttocks after heart surgery at Sunrise Hospital in January 2009. He continues to receive treatment for the wound.

Sern Englestead

Sern Englestead developed a large pressure sore on his buttocks after heart surgery at Sunrise Hospital in January 2009. The wound is still being treated and has not fully healed. Englestead was photographed in his Henderson home October 12, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Everything went fine with Sern Englestead’s heart surgery. Not so, though, in postoperative recovery.

Englestead underwent the surgery almost two years ago at Sunrise Hospital Medical Center and was discharged with an open sore the size of a grapefruit on his buttocks, so deep it exposed his tailbone.

Some health care experts refer to bedsores as “never events” — injuries that are not supposed to occur if the patient is shifted in bed so pressure isn’t placed too long on the same body part. Such injuries are considered so preventable that the federal government does not reimburse hospitals for treating them when they occur in the facilities.

Dan Davidson, Sunrise spokesman, said in an e-mail that although he was unable to discuss Englestead’s case in detail, “our review of the records indicates that unfortunately, this bedsore was unpreventable.”

Other doctors familiar with Englestead’s medical condition say that’s not the case.

Englestead’s wound care specialist, Dr. John Martinez, wrote a letter for the patient’s file saying it was “hard to imagine” he received the care he needed.

Englestead, 76, was unconscious and sedated during part of his stay, but said he has no recollection of efforts to shift his weight when he was conscious. And his daughter, Paula Naegle, principal of Del Webb Middle School, said family was with him during the stay and did not see him turned. Neither Englestead nor his family understood the risks of bedsores.

Englestead had been working part time, selling insurance, and living on his own. Because of the injury, he no longer works and now lives in an assisted-care facility.

Nurses visit him every other day to care for the sore.

The injury has taken a toll on his family. Naegle moved in with her father soon after the injury and before he moved into the assisted-living facility. She and her five siblings share the care duties. Expenses associated with the facility and nursing care are about $5,000 a month.

Naegle complains there is no accountability in the health care system.

“In my position, running a school, if there’s a problem, I hear about it,” she said. “And if I don’t take care of it, it goes to the next level and the next level. I am accountable, and I have to take care of things. Where is the system of accountability in hospitals?”

The family did not complain to Sunrise about the injury because it was dealing with the crisis and felt it was “pointless,” Naegle said.

She has since filed a complaint with the Nevada State Health Division, which licenses hospitals.

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  1. I'm not surprised by this story. I've had experience in multiple hospitals (UMC, Valley, Summerlin, Mountain View, Centennial Hills) in this city over the years, and the only reason my relatives were turned was because I made the medical staff turn them.