Residents of nursing homes are at risk of serious injury or death from complications arising from bedsores when nursing homes and their staffs fail to provide the basic care which is needed to prevent or stop their development. Unfortunately, bedsores (which are also referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) are all too common in nursing homes. According to a report published in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control more than one-in-ten residents of nursing home has bedsores. The fact that so many elderly Americans suffer from bedsores is inexcusable because the simple fact is bedsores should not develop or worsen in a nursing home. Too often bedsores develop or advance because of a nursing home staff’s neglect or negligence.
An attorney, like a Philadelphia nursing home lawyers, can represent clients who have developed painful bedsores while a resident at a nursing home. If you or a loved one developed a bedsore, or had an existing bedsore get worse, while in a nursing home, you may be able to sue for financial compensation. Depending on the circumstances, money awards can be in the millions.
The term “bedsore” does not properly describe the pain and suffering they cause. If they are not treated properly, bedsores can become infected and result in the amputation of a limb, or even death. Sometimes called “pressure ulcer”, these wounds often form on parts of the body where there is pressure between a bony prominence and another surface such as a bed or a chair. So, it is not surprising that bedsores typically form at the tailbone or sacrum, the buttocks, the hips, and the backs of the heels.
Bedsores fall into four different stages, consisting of the following: Stage 1 is the beginning stage, and typically is associated with pain and a change in skin color; Stage 2 is when the bedsore becomes an open wound; Stage 3 is a deep wound that looks like a crater and may have yellow-colored dead tissue; Stage 4 is the final and most advanced stage of bedsores and may expose bone, tendons or muscle.
A nursing home resident’s lack of mobility, incontinence or poor eating can make them more vulnerable to developing bed sores or pressure ulcers. It is important to realize, however, that even if a nursing home resident suffers from these risk factors, that does not mean that the resident will develop bedsores. In fact, federal regulations covering nursing homes set strict guidelines on nursing home to prevent and treat pressure ulcers.
The federal, and in many cases state, regulations require that in most cases if a resident enters a nursing home without bedsores, they should not develop them. In other words, a nursing home must use its best efforts to prevent bedsores from developing. And if a bedsore does develop, the nursing home must provide care to promote healing and prevent infection.
Because nursing homes have extensive responsibilities to prevent and/or treat bedsores, care that leads to the development or advancement of bedsores can often be a basis for a lawsuit. Some examples of nursing home negligence include:
- Failure to regularly re-position the resident;
- Failure to provide adequate toileting and diaper/clothing changes for the resident;
- Failure to provide adequate nutrition and fluids – malnutrition and dehydration make the skin more vulnerable.
Moreover, a treatment plan to deal with an existing bedsore should likely include:
- Regular dressing changes;
- Application of wound treatments;
- Use of nutritional supplements; and,
- Use of pressure-reducing devices.
When a nursing home fails to take the proper precautions to prevent and treat bedsores, they frequently progress and become infected. In such cases, a legal and medical assessment of the treatment plan and its implementation is an important part of determining if a nursing home is legally responsible for the resident’s injuries.
Thanks to authors at The Wieand Law Firm LLC for their insight into Personal Injury Law and Nursing Home neglect.