Why Bed Sores Might Be a Sign of Nursing Home Negligence
If you or a family member suffers bed sores due to a nursing home’s abuse or negligence, you need an aggressive lawyer to hold the facility responsible.
When you put your loved one in a nursing home, you expect they’ll receive the best possible care. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. The appearance of bedsores on your loved one’s body is a tell-tale sign that they may not be receiving the quality of care you expect a nursing home to provide.
Bedsores leave your loved ones at the risk of contracting infections that may lead to death. For this reason, you should seek help from nursing home abuse lawyers near you. They can work to ensure your loved one receives the medical assistance they need and hold the nursing home liable for the bedsores and neglect.
What Are Bed Sores?
Also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure ulcers, bedsores are painful lesions on the skin and underlying tissue that develop when affected body parts endure prolonged pressure. Bedsores primarily occur on bony parts of the body, including the back, heels, hips, ankle, and tailbone. They are a common sight in nursing homes across the country.
When body parts endure prolonged pressure, the blood supply to the surrounding skin and tissue gets hampered. As a result, the skin and the underlying tissue will deteriorate, leaving open wounds. Bedsores are painful and may cause deformities and an increased risk of infection.
Causes of Bed Sores
In nursing homes, bed sores primarily arise from patient immobility and prolonged periods of sedentary activity without shifting pressure from the affected body parts. Most people who experience bedsores are individuals with medical conditions limiting their mobility. As a result, they must use wheelchairs or stay confined to bed for prolonged hours.
The leading causes of bedsores are:
Lack of Movement
Immobility is the most significant cause of bedsores. Nursing home residents who can’t shift their weight or move their legs and arms cannot relieve pressure on their tissues and skin without help. Consequently, blood flow to the affected suffers, causing bedsores.
Some nursing homes can move without assistance but can’t feel parts of their bodies. As a result, they won’t be able to feel the pain or discomfort or prolonged pressure and shift to the correct posture that relieves the pressure on the affected body parts.
Staying immobile for prolonged periods encourages moisture buildup. Nursing home staff should ensure residents are dry, especially when hot or after bathing. Adult diapers should also get changed promptly because prolonged skin exposure to moisture causes pressure ulcers.
Proper nutrition is essential in preventing bedsores. Since older people who form the majority of nursing home residents tend to have fragile skin, they need to be well-nourished.
Bed Sores and Malnutrition
When blood fails to circulate to all body parts, bedsores may develop. That’s particularly common among nursing home residents with diabetes or edema in their legs. Unfortunately, poor nutrition is an often-overlooked risk factor for bedsores.
Nursing home residents who are malnourished or dehydrated are at a higher risk of developing bedsores. Their skin will be dry and will lack the nutrients to stay healthy. These nutrients include zinc, iron, and proteins.
Poor nutrition also affects the skin and tissues’ ability to heal when sores develop. When nursing home residents lose weight due to malnutrition, more pressure is exerted on the bony areas of their bodies, heightening the risk of pressure ulcers.
Stages of Bed Sores
The bedsore isn’t open at this stage, and there are no visible breaks or tears on the skin. Nonetheless, the skin is reddened and blanches when pressure is applied. The skin may be warm and painful, while the damaged area may feel firmer or softer than the surrounding skin.
At this point, the skin in the affected areas will start to tear, revealing open wounds. It will also be tender and painful, and the wounds may resemble blisters, scrapes, or shallow craters. When a nursing home resident reaches this point, their skin has suffered significant damage.
In the third stage of pressure ulcers, the wounds penetrate beyond the skin and deep into the underlying tissue. A fat that resembles a crater may appear in the wound. The sores are likely to be painful even if there isn’t an open wound.
By this time, the damage has reached the bone/muscle. The patients’ joints and tendons may also be affected, and the bones and muscles may be visible.
What Can Nursing Homes Do to Avert Bed Sores?
Bedsore prevention needs to start as soon as residents move into nursing homes. Within the first week of admission, employees should assess a resident’s new skin condition to check for bedsores.
After the assessment, nursing home employees should take further action to avert bedsores, including:
- Implementing a plan to prevent pressure ulcers based on the assessment.
- Checking residents regularly.
- Undertaking bed sore assessments periodically to monitor any changes.
- Providing residents with a clean environment to lower the risk of bedsores.
- Providing immediate medical attention if bedsores are detected.
- Training staff on pinpointing the symptoms of bedsores and treating the condition properly.
Most nursing home residents are senior citizens with underlying medical conditions that make them vulnerable to bedsores. For this reason, nursing homes should implement measures to keep their clients safe and healthy.
Untreated Bed Sores Can Kill Patients
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that bedsores cause up to 60,000 deaths annually. Nearly 80 percent of deaths related to the condition happen at nursing homes and similar facilities, highlighting why your loved ones could be at risk.
If your loved one dies due to bedsores, you can hold the negligent nursing home accountable by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A skilled nursing home abuse lawyer can help you investigate your suspicions, gather the necessary evidence, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Can I Hold Nursing Homes Liable for Bed Sores?
There’ are several steps that can help prevent, detect, and treat pressure ulcers. Unfortunately, few facilities take the necessary precautions to keep their residents safe. Residents shouldn’t develop bedsores when under nursing care, and therefore, the facilities can and should be liable if the unfortunate happens.
Several federal laws apply to nursing homes regarding their standards of care. Federal regulations touch on bedsores and the quality of care that nursing home residents should receive. It stipulates that nursing homes should provide consistent and quality care to prevent pressure ulcers unless the residents’ clinical conditions make it impossible.
The regulation also outlines that nursing home residents with bedsores should receive the necessary treatment and services. These should be consistent with professional standards of healthcare practice and promote healing, avert infection, and prevent new sores from developing.
Bed Sores Are Indicative of Nursing Home Negligence
If you notice pressure ulcers on your loved ones, it could point to negligence at the nursing home they’re admitted.
Caregivers in these facilities should be doing the following to ensure that the pressure ulcers don’t develop in the first place:
- Reposition residents at least once every hour.
- Utilize cushions, pillows, and mattresses to ease the pressure.
- Use wheelchairs and beds with an incline that doesn’t exceed 30 degrees to ease the stress on pressure points and avert the shearing of the skin.
- Provide proper nutrition and hydration to residents.
- Change residents’ clothes and bedsheets regularly.
- Keep you updated on your loved one’s activities and medical conditions.
Bed Sores as a Form of Medical Malpractice
If a nursing home doesn’t do the above and pressure ulcers appear, it could be liable for abuse, neglect, and medical malpractice. Bedsores can qualify as medical malpractice if a nursing home fails to adhere to the required healthcare standard.
These failures include:
- Failure to accurately diagnose the bedsores.
- Poor aftercare or follow-up after diagnosing the condition.
- Failure to recognize the symptoms of bedsores.
Negligence can be a form of medical malpractice, and you can be the basis of a lawsuit. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can go a long way in securing the compensation your loved one needs for their injuries and losses.
Nursing Home Abuse versus Negligence
The appearance of pressure ulcers is undoubtedly a cause for swift action and further scrutiny.
In cases involving nursing home abuse, you must show that the intent to harm your loved one resulted in bedsores.
On the other hand, nursing home neglect can take various forms.
Nonetheless, the development of bedsores is always a sign of negligence by nursing homes and their staff. Whether your loved one got neglected or abused, you should immediately contact a nursing home abuse attorney to hold the facility liable and recover damages.
How to Report Nursing Home Negligence/Abuse
If you believe your loved one’s bedsores resulted from neglect or negligent care, it’s essential to take quick action to protect them from additional harm. The local ombudsman program is an excellent place to report suspected nursing home neglect or abuse.
You can also report the nursing home to the Missouri Department of Public Health by filing a complaint online via the Missouri Health Services Regulation Database. An investigator will get assigned to your case within 48 hours. They will evaluate your loved one’s facility records and medical charts and may even interview staff at the nursing home to get to the bottom of the matter.
After notifying government authorities, you can file medical malpractice or nursing home abuse claim. These claims seek to hold the facility liable for your loved one’s injuries and can help you recover the damages suffered. Nursing home abuse lawyers can build a strong case that guarantees fair and timely compensation for your loved one’s pressure ulcers.
What Does a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit Entail?
A medical malpractice lawsuit allows nursing home residents and their loved ones to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages.
For your lawsuit to succeed, you must prove that:
- The nursing home violated the medical standards of care.
- The violation contributed to your loved one’s injuries.
- The injuries resulted in wanton suffering and significant damages.
Having a skilled nursing home abuse attorney helps understand Missouri law, the statute of limitation in which you can file these cases, and how to build a strong case.
Getting Legal Help With Bed Sores
As soon as you address your loved one’s immediate healthcare needs and report the nursing home neglect to the relevant authorities, contact a St. Louis nursing home abuse attorney, preferably specializing in elder abuse and neglect cases. Review an attorney’s track record to ensure they have a history of securing positive outcomes for their clients.
Although you can file a nursing home abuse claim on your own, it’s advisable to seek skilled legal assistance.
Here are the top three reasons to seek a lawyer for your lawsuit:
- They ensure you meet critical deadlines and file your claim before the statute of limitations expires.
- They can handle all the complicated legal aspects of the case, so you focus on your loved one’s medical treatment and recovery.
- They can protect your loved one’s interests against the negligent nursing home, which may try to dispute your claim. The nursing home will undoubtedly want to safeguard its business interests and reputation in the face of a lawsuit and will likely hire its own lawyers.
Contact a Dedicated Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today
Your loved one deserves the utmost care when admitted to nursing homes. The appearance of bedsores proves that the nursing home breached the duty of care it owes your loved one.
If your loved one falls victim to nursing home neglect or abuse and suffers pressure ulcers, a lawyer can help pursue justice and compensation. Contact a skilled nursing home neglect attorney for your free consultation.
I represent individuals in Missouri and Illinois in all types of personal injury cases. In my short time here I have obtained a judgment for $2.5 million and settled a large class action lawsuit for a confidential amount.
I love the city of St. Louis and support it and give back whenever I can. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gateway Mall.
I am married to my lovely wife Lauren and we have two beautiful daughters, Mia and Bridget.