I-TEAM UPDATE: Family files lawsuit against PruittHealth after they claim woman died from bed sore and poor care at facility

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Laura Bulloch, here surrounded by her family, was admitted to a PruittHealth facility in 2017. (Source: Robinson Family)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The son of a patient has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against PruittHealth Augusta Hills one month after our I-Team exposed his mother died from a bedsore.

We also found more than a dozen similar cases at other PruittHealth facilities.

PruittHealth operates more than a hundred skilled nursing home facilities throughout the southeast, including four here locally.

That brings us to PruittHealth Augusta Hills and the case of Laura Bulloch.

[RELATED: I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: This family believed their sister was getting the best care at PruittHealth. So how did she die from a bed sore?

Bulloch was only 56 years old when she died February. She died from a pressure sore.

"We turned her over and pulled that thing down and that big ol’ hole was right there,” Bulloch’s sister, Mary McClain, said. “That big ol’ hole was right there. We couldn't believe it. That big ol’ hole was right there."

The Bulloch family’s lawsuit alleges PruitHealth deprived the woman of essential car, including pressure relief to prevent skin breakdown.

Caleb Conner represents the Bulloch family.

"She was completely dependent upon staff for all her -- they're called ADLs -- activities daily living,” Conner said.

The lawsuit further alleges PruittHealth's corporate office made "operational" and "budgetary" "decisions that were determined more by the "financial needs and goals" then by the "nursing needs" of "residents."

This is not Conner’s first lawsuit against PruittHealth.

“We've brought claims against the chain of these nursing homes on multiple occasions before and unfortunately the numbers we are seeing with complaints generally seems to be exploding,” Conner said.

This month, the inspector general’s office released its findings in an audit of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

[RELATED: I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: PruittHealth’s 72 facilities in SC, GA all had Medicare/Medicaid violations]

The OIG reviewed more than 34,000 claims from nursing homes, group homes, and other Medicare beneficiaries. The OIG found 90 percent of the sampled medical records in the audit contained evidence of potential abuse or neglect. More than 2,500 were allegedly perpetrated by a healthcare worker, more than 3,300 were related to incidents that occurred in a medical facility and more than 9,000 were related to incidents that were not reported to law enforcement.

"If I had known that was going to be the last time I seen my sister I would have hugged her,” McClain said.

[RELATED: I-TEAM INVESTIGATION: This family claims medical neglect helped kill their sister, but how did this case escape a law enforcement probe?]

While a lawsuit has been filed, there’s no amount of money that will bring Laura Bulloch back to her family.

The OIG decided to audit Medicare and Medicaid after preliminary findings regarding nursing home patients. The OIG stated, "those were troubling enough to that we expanded our review."

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