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On August 11, 2012, Morley Reed Sprague was rushed to the hospital. He was suffering from sepsis, a potentially lethal condition stemming from a severe infection, and a urinary tract infection. Sprague, then 57, had been suffering from MS for nearly two decades and in 2012 he was confined to a wheelchair. After a 12 day stay in the hospital, he was transferred to North Canyon Care Center in Bountiful, Utah. According to a medical malpractice lawsuit, the staff at the center neglected to turn Sprague as instructed by his doctor and subsequently he developed bed sores that can become life threatening if infected.

Bed sores that turn into ulcers and infections are one of the most common ailments contracted by patients in hospitals and health care centers. When an individual is immobile and bedridden they must be rotated every few hours. Lawyers representing the family alleged that Sprague was ignored and he developed a stage IV pressure ulcer on his back because of the neglect. After the care did not improve Sprague decided to go home, they argued, but the sores did not heal. After more than two years of painful treatment he entered hospice care and just a few months later, he was gone.

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The defendant and plaintiff were not able to come to a settlement and the lawsuit was brought before a jury at the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake City at the end of 2017. After hearing testimony from both sides, the Utah jury found that the staff at North Canyon Care Center failed to follow the instructions regarding bed sore prevention, which led to the worsening of Sprague’s health. The jury awarded his family $1,833,000, which includes $481,000 to his wife, Cheryl Sprague, and $125,000 to each of his three children. Based on Utah’s noneconomic payment caps on medical malpractice verdicts, the total payout could be reduced by at least $62,000.

It is not yet clear whether the North Canyon Care Center will appeal the ruling.

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