Long-term nursing care is a reality of life for those who suffer permanent disabilities or are aging and cannot care for themselves.
Whether someone resides in a nursing home or has an aide come to their home, caregivers must provide a standard of care to their patients that meets the healthcare community's accepted standards. The development of bedsores is among the most common tell-tale signs of neglect. Untreated bedsores can lead to dangerous, sometimes fatal infections.
If you or a loved one has developed bedsores, you could have grounds for a lawsuit against a St. Louis caregiver, facility, or in-home healthcare provider responsible for care. Missouri law protects the elderly and disabled from neglect, and our team can help you hold the negligent party accountable for harming you.
Call Bruning Law Firm today to discuss the conditions that led to your or a loved one’s bedsores, and determine the viability of your claim.
Table of Contents
- Bruning Law Firm Advocates for Victims of Neglect
- Stages of Bedsores
- Patients Suffer Bedsores Because of Neglect
- Reporting Neglect in St. Louis
- Long-term Issues Stemming From Bedsores
- Financial Losses Associated With Bedsores
- Contact a St. Louis Bedsore Lawyer to Help
Bruning Law Firm Advocates for Victims of Neglect
The legal team at The Bruning Law Firm understands the importance of family and has spent decades helping victims of neglect take action against responsible parties. Your loved ones should not have to endure pain from developing bedsores or suffering any other injuries when receiving long-term care at a facility or home.
The firm’s commitment to advocacy and justice has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in damages from settlement agreements and jury awards for their clients. We cannot guarantee a specific financial outcome for your St. Louis bedsore claim, but we can promise to diligently pursue the maximum compensation if we accept your case.
Stages of Bedsores
A bedsore broadly refers to skin damage when someone remains in the same position too long. Sometimes people refer to bedsores as pressure sores or pressure ulcers because the sore occurs at the pressure point where the affected area of the body meets the bed or chair. The blood flow in the affected area stops, creating an open wound because the skin is close to the bone.
Regardless of the name you use, bedsores sometimes cause irreparable damage, sickness, and massive pain for those who have them. A person’s heels, elbows, back, tailbone, ankles, hips, and shoulder blades are most prone to bedsores. They vary in their severity, so medical providers categorize them in stages.
1. Stage I Bedsore
Stage I bedsores are difficult for the average person to detect. Typically, caregivers, nurses, doctors, and other professionals must take the time to examine someone to notice the beginning signs.
At this stage, a bedsore barely changes the skin, which looks different on each person. Redness of the skin and warmth are typically associated with a Stage I bedsore. Stage I ulcers do not cause a break in the skin, so they are not that serious if someone notices them and stops development.
2. Stage II Bedsore
Stage II bedsores impact the epidermis, the medical name for the top layer of skin. They can also affect deeper layers of skin found in the dermis, which is directly below the epidermis. Depending on the pressure points and environment where the bedsore develops, a Stage II bedsore might be a shallow open wound.
Other times, a Stage II bedsore might look like a pus-filled blister. Stage II bedsores can break open, draining puss and other liquid. This creates cleanliness problems around the affected area and can lead to infection and other complications.
3. Stage III Bedsore
The damage bedsores do to the body becomes extremely serious at Stage III. A Stage III bedsore eats through most skin layers and starts eating away at the fat and connective tissue found in the last layer of skin.
The final layer of skin is also home to the nerve endings, creating massive pain for those who develop Stage III bedsores. People with Stage III bedsores risk nerve damage and other medical complications without immediate treatment. In the most serious cases, Stage III bedsores
expose muscle and bone.
4. Stage IV Bedsore
Stage IV bedsores cause the most pain and put patients at the worst risk of severe or fatal infection. A Stage IV bedsore extends into the body’s muscular and skeletal system. Dead skin typically surrounds a Stage IV bedsore with pus and drainage throughout the affected area. Developing Stage IV bedsores often means reconstructive surgery.
Doctors remove the dead skin and reconstruct the affected area with skin grafts from other areas of the body.
Patients Suffer Bedsores Because of Neglect
Missouri and federal laws alike require long-term nursing care facilities to provide residents with a certain standard of care. The same is true for companies and aides who provide in-home care to patients. Nursing homes and caregivers are not only at risk for a civil lawsuit when neglect occurs, but the individual(s) responsible for the neglect also face criminal charges.
Neglect occurs for various reasons, including:
- Short-staffed nursing homes, hospitals, and home health agencies require existing staff to take on too much work and set them up to provide substandard care.
- Overworked and underpaid aides and caregivers become fatigued and frustrated and sometimes intentionally neglect patients.
- Poor training and hiring practices lead to substandard care from inexperience or incompetence.
Nursing home residents, hospital patients, and those who receive care at home need regular repositioning if they are bed and/or wheelchair ridden. Staying in the same position too long leads to the development of bedsores. Although bedsores do not always mean neglect, their existence often suggests someone has been a victim of caregiver neglect.
Reporting Neglect in St. Louis
If you or your loved one has developed bedsores because of a neglectful caregiver, you must report the neglect to the proper authorities. If neglect occurred in a St. Louis nursing home, you can file a complaint with the Missouri Division of Regulation and Licensure by calling their St. Louis office at (314) 340-3414.
They typically will initiate an investigation within 24 hours. You can also report neglect to the Adult Protective Services Hotline at 1-800-392-0210. The hotline refers your case to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). They investigate neglect of vulnerable individuals over age 60 and those with disabilities over 18, regardless of whether they live at home or in a long-term nursing care facility.
Your formal complaint provides valuable documentation for your attorney and your case.
Long-term Issues Stemming From Bedsores
People who struggle with mobility or are completely bedridden face the most risk for developing bedsores. Patients in comas or a permanent vegetative state (PVS) are especially at risk because they cannot communicate pain & suffering or discomfort. Early-stage bedsores typically heal when someone catches them.
However, once someone develops Stage III bedsores they must cope with healing and recovery for weeks or months. Underlying medical conditions that impact how fast someone heals, such as diabetes, can worsen situations.
Untreated, late-stage bedsores progress to a point where doctors cannot categorize them. Bedsores past Stage IV put people at risk for fatality. Even if they survive the bedsores, they still face long-term complications from these severe bedsores:
1. Dangerous Infections
Late-stage bedsores put people at risk for dangerous infections, sometimes fatal if left untreated. Infections that stem from bedsores sometimes enter the cardiovascular and skeletal system, leading to troubles in someone’s heart and bones. Infections can cause fevers, confusion, weakness, and elevate a person’s heart rate.
As bedsores worsen, they reduce blood flow to the area. In the worst cases, bedsores completely stop blood flow to the affected area of the body. During treatment, doctors attempt to restore blood flow. However, this is not always possible, especially in severe cases.
Doctors must amputate the affected area of the body to prevent infection from spreading throughout the body. Amputations can result from bedsores, and they also come with additional medical challenges beyond the physical pain of amputation and the mental trauma associated with the loss.
3. Recurring Bedsores
Those who develop bedsores need extensive bed rest to recover and let the sores heal. It’s likely their bedsores occurred because they weren’t receiving proper care in the first place. Continued bed rest plus inadequate care create an ongoing cycle of recurring bedsores, making it difficult for people to heal completely. When caregivers do not reposition their patients, new bedsores develop or existing bedsores worsen.
4. Autonomic Dysreflexia
Autonomic dysreflexia refers to the body’s abnormal reaction to stimuli in the body’s nervous system. This condition is rare but those with pressure sores on their spinal column face the most risk.
Common symptoms that occur when bedsores affect the nervous system include:
- Muscle spasms
- High blood pressure
- Heavy sweating
- Change in skin tone, including bluish skin, paleness, and redness
If you or someone you love suffered from the above medical complications or another complication due to bedsores, a St. Louis bedsore lawyer can help you seek compensation for damages.
Financial Losses Associated With Bedsores
If you or a loved one has developed bedsores due to neglect, you also face massive related expenses. The exact economic impact hinges on the severity of the bedsores, the number of bedsores, and the course of action you take to deal with the underlying neglect.
If you choose to bring a lawsuit against the responsible facility and/or caregiver, you could recover damages related to your losses. Each case is different, so it’s impossible to say which damages apply to your case with certainty. However, victims of neglect who prevail in their case commonly receive compensation for:
Medical Treatment Costs
Bedsores come with a wide range of medical expenses.
Depending on the severity of the sores and the damage someone faces, treatment costs could include:
- Doctor visits
- Pain medication, antibiotics, and other medications
- Diagnostic imaging to evaluate the bedsores and accompanying damage to other areas of the body
Those who repeatedly develop bedsores can receive ongoing medical expenses for months.
Mental Health Services
Bedsores often indicate a larger problem, whether receiving care at home in a nursing care facility. Not only has a patient suffered neglect, but they might have suffered mental and/or physical abuse. Patients trust caregivers to provide exceptional care and do no harm.
After suffering bedsores, patients can lose trust and suffer emotional distress from their injuries. Patients who can communicate because they do not suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, or are not in a coma or permanent vegetative state PVS, sometimes need behavioral therapy and other mental health services to help them work through the trauma of neglect.
Transfer costs after developing bedsores are often associated with nursing home residents. If the nursing home resident you love developed bedsores, and you do not feel they will ever get adequate care at their current facility, ask us about transferring them to another nursing home.
Moving is traumatic for many nursing home residents and finding another convenient location can be a challenge. Additionally, transferring facilities is costly. You might have to pay higher rates at a different facility or to hire a private nurse, or you might have to move to a facility much further away.
Contact a St. Louis Bedsore Lawyer to Help
If you or a loved one has developed bedsores because of neglectful caregivers, Missouri law permits you to seek compensation for damages related to sores and their treatment.
An experienced St. Louis bedsore attorney from Bruning Law Firm can help you hold caregivers accountable by guiding you through the complaint process and investigating the neglect that led to the bedsores.
The compassionate legal team at Bruning Law Firm has the knowledge and resources to help you and your family during this difficult time.
Contact us today to discuss your case, determine your eligibility for compensation, and learn the best path forward for your situation. You can reach us at our St. Louis office at (314) 735-8100 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.
The Bruning Law Firm
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