Defense expert testifies as nursing home negligence trial enters fifth day

Amelia Flood Feb. 22, 2010, 9:45am

A trial over the care provided by an Edwardsville nursing home seven years ago continued into its second week as the defense continued its case with expert witness testimony.

The start of Monday's testimony was delayed as the defense once again attempted to convince presiding judge, Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, to change her ruling excluding the mention of a previous toe ulcer from the case.

The plaintiff, Martha Flanary, is suing as administrator of her husband, Gerald's estate, alleging that Rosewood Care Center of Edwardsville breached the standard of care when he developed a blister and ulcer on his left heel in December 2007.

The defense has contended that Rosewood is not at fault for the injury due to Gerald Flanary's underlying medical conditions.

Defense attorney Dennis McCubbin asked last week that Callis overturn her order barring him from introducing evidence of a prior ulcer Gerald Flanary developed outside of Rosewood's care.

At the time, Callis refused to change her ruling.

Callis also denied motions by McCubbin to dismiss and direct the verdict Monday morning.

Defense expert, Dr. Gregory Comptom of South Carolina, testified about Gerald Flanary's underlying conditions and the significance of the prior ulcer outside of the jury's hearing Monday morning.

After he concluded his testimony, Callis again refused to allow introduction of the incident.

The trial restarted at about 10 a.m.

Compton again took the stand as McCubbin questioned him, as a wound care specialist, about how and why pressure sores like the one on Gerald Flanary's left heel form.

Compton testified that Gerald Flanary's diabetes and peripheral vascular disease were the likely cause of the wound and why it did not heal.

He did not fault the nursing home.

"If this gentleman is being neglected at the nursing home," Compton said, "he surely would have broken down in other places."

Compton did fault Dr. Michael Beatty, the Edwardsville plastic surgeon who popped Gerald Flanary's blister and removed dead tissue from the wound. He called the blister cap "Mother Nature's
dressing," arguing it actually protected the wound. Beatty "un-roofed," the wound on Dec. 19, 2003, Compton said.

It deteriorated and Gerald Flanary was transferred several days later to Gateway Regional Medical Center.

"The thing that bothers me about this case is there's no logic," Compton said. "If it ain't broke, don't un-roof it."

Compton contended that there was no reason to pop the blister and that doing so could have increased the risk of infection and the wound's worsening.

During cross examination, plaintiff's attorney Robert Gregory asked Compton if he had reviewed the investigation report by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The IDPH investigated the Flanary case and determined that Rosewood had violated its own policies.

It did not rule that the nursing home was guilty of neglect.

Compton said he had not reviewed that report.

Gregory also questioned Compton about mistakes written in the notes about Flanary's wound and its position as well as whether it was normal for a number of doctors to monitor a patient's condition.

Compton agreed mistakes had been noted and that several doctors might oversee a nursing home patient's case.

More defense witnesses took the stand Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 3 p.m., as the trial took a brief break, it came to the attention of the attorneys that one juror was related to defense witness Holly Hernandez.

McCubbin asked that the juror be discharged. Gregory offered no objection.

That juror was replaced by an alternate.

The trial will continue Tuesday. Callis told jurors that the trial would go until at least Wednesday.

The trial began last Tuesday. Callis took over the trial from Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder due to a scheduling
issue. Crowder was set to preside over another trial beginning the same day.

The case is Madison case number 05-L-747.

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