SOURCE: Medline Industries, Inc.

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March 19, 2010 10:36 ET

Secrets to Reducing the Risk of Pressure Ulcer Litigation Revealed in Exclusive Webcast

Medline Presents Exclusive Webcast Available March 22 on Medlineuniversity.com

MUNDELEIN, IL--(Marketwire - March 19, 2010) -  The outcome of a medical litigation is highly dependent on the words used in a care setting, arguably as important as the care delivered itself. In an exclusive webcast event presented by Medline Industries, Inc., legal and clinical experts reveal the secrets to how healthcare facilities can reduce their risk of pressure ulcer litigation, including how the utilization of the nursing process and proper documentation are vital components in maintaining the standard of care. This compelling discussion can be viewed via a webcast at www.medlineuniversity.com beginning March 22 with one contact hour available.

The industry experts featured in the webcast are Kevin W. Yankowsky, JD, a partner in the Health Law-Health Litigation department of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and Caroline Fife, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Intellicure, Inc. and Director of Clinical Research at the Memorial Hermann Center for Wound Healing and Associate Professor - Division of Cardiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Pressure ulcer litigation is a growing concern in healthcare. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million pressure ulcers are treated in U.S. acute care facilities, and 60,000 patients die each year as a result of pressure ulcer complications.

Yankowsky and Fife explain that the words a healthcare facility uses in setting their own policies are powerful, and while these policies and procedures are not law, a skillful lawyer can hold them up as standards resulting in judgments against their own facility or workers. They illustrate their point using the stages of a pressure ulcer. 

"There is a misconception that high-stage pressure ulcers always progress from lower stage pressure ulcers," explained Dr. Fife. "That is not always the case. Litigators try to make the case that if there is a stage 4 pressure ulcer, it must mean that there was negligent care. As a result, we have this implication that there must be someone who's responsible."

Both experts agree that educating patients and their families about pressure ulcers, or any complication that may occur during a medical stay, can minimize litigation. Mr. Yankowsky further explains that healthcare workers should only provide answers to questions appropriate to their clinical expertise and specific knowledge of the patient's case.

"Train staff to be empathetic, effective communicators," Yankowsky advises. "They may not have the answer but they have to be willing to listen and appear sensitive to the desire for a family to obtain answers. It can be as simple as telling the nurse to say, 'I don't know the answer but I understand it's important to you and here is who I am going to ask.'"

Pressure ulcer litigation is going to become an increasingly important issue with the rise of our aging population and increasing federal government scrutiny in terms of reimbursement for hospital-acquired conditions. To learn more on the legal implication of pressure ulcers, go to www.medlineuniversity.com to access the webcast.

About Medline Industries, Inc. 
Medline, the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, manufactures and distributes more than 100,000 products to hospitals, extended-care facilities, surgery centers, home care dealers and agencies and other markets. Headquartered in Mundelein, Ill., Medline has more than 800 dedicated sales representatives nationwide to support its broad product line and cost management services. 

Meeting the highest level of national and international quality standards, Medline is FDA QSR compliant and ISO certified 13485:2003. Medline serves on major industry quality committees to develop guidelines and standards for medical product use, including the FDA Midwest Steering Committee, AAMI Sterilization and Packaging Committee and various ASTM committees. For more information on Medline, visit our Web site, www.medline.com

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