Punitive damages are rare in
nursing home cases in Pennsylvania, but last week a jury awarded punitive damages of
$5 million against two nursing homes–Jeanes Hospital and Hillcrest
Convalescent Home. The two facilities were accused of providing poor care
to Joe N. Blango that caused bedsores that ultimately led to his death
two years later. Blango’s widow had already been awarded $1 million
in compensatory damages two weeks prior to winning the punitive damages.
In 2006 Blango, then 74 years old, was hospitalized at Jeanes Hospital
due to symptoms of confusion and weakness. Hospital personnel believed
he had suffered from a stroke, but Blango’s lawyer states he had
a urinary tract infection that was not diagnosed. Because the infection
was not caught, Blango’s condition worsened, and he developed bedsores.
Blango was transferred to Hillcrest Convalescent Home after a week at
He stayed at Hillcrest for two weeks, but his condition declined, and he
was transferred back to Jeanes Hospital. Blango was released after three
days at Jeanes. By that point Blango was 28 pounds lighter, and the bedsores
had festered because, according to Blango’s lawyer, they were not
cared for. Blango died two years later from the bedsores.
Jeanes plans to appeal; it is unknown whether Hillcrest will appeal.