CRIMINAL CHARGES IN VIRGINIA: WHAT IS A KENNEDY TERMINAL ULCER?

The DailyPress.Com reports a felony abuse charge leveled at a Gloucester man accused of failing to care for his ailing aunt was dismissed Tuesday in Glouster, Virginia. Following nearly seven hours of testimony and argument, the trial judge dismissed a charge of abuse involving the incapacitation of an adult causing injury against Erick Wilson.

The case arose after the death of Regina Wynn, Wilson’s 87-year-old aunt, who died in September after being brought to a Richmond, Virginia hospital with dinner-plate-sized sores, respiratory infection and severe dehydration.

Apparently, the dismissal of the abuse charge hinged on the testimony of Joy Schank, a nurse practitioner and wound specialist from Himrod, N.Y., who was paid $2,500 for her testimony. Schank testified that the bone-deep bedsores found on Wynn’s body were in fact something called a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer, a condition where near the end of a patient’s life the skin begins to unavoidably deteriorate.

We have faced the Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Defense before in our nursing home abuse cases….even deposed Nurse Kennedy herself. In our opinion the Kennedy Terminal Ulcer defense is a fraud. The argument goes like this: “If you have an ulcer or pressure sore and die as a result of complications from the ulcer/pressure sore then the ulcer was a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer and the patient was doomed to die quickly regardless of the poor care he/she received. If the patient survives the ulcer then it was not a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer… but you cannot diagnose whether the ulcer/sore is a Kennedy Terminal Ulcer until you wait to see if the patient dies.

Many nursing homes use the Kennedy Terminal Ulcer Defense in supporting their argument that there was nothing they could have done for the patient because he/she was doomed to die because they suffered from a terminal ulcer.

My Take: Just think about the illogical argument underlying this defense….it’s shameful.

Dan Frith

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.