Bed Sore Legal Information

With the proper care and attentiveness, bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are avoidable and treatable. Not every person can prevent or treat their wounds, however. The lack of proper healthcare and negligence can lead to the development of severe bedsores. Patients who suspect their pressure ulcers developed from a caregiver’s failure to act can pursue legal action.

Who is at Risk of Bedsores?

Some individuals are more vulnerable to bedsores than others. Those most vulnerable to bedsores are:

  • People with mobility issues, such as the elderly, overweight, and paralyzed.
  • Individuals with neurological disorders and spinal cord injuries, who cannot detect pressure ulcers because they lack sensory perception.
  • People who are malnourished and lack the nutrients to develop stronger skin and tissues.
  • Patients who suffer from health problems such as diabetes and vascular disease, which disrupt the blood flow to the skin.

People with these medical conditions should receive special care when dealing with bedsores, particularly those with limited mobility.

Determining Bedsore Liability

A patient at a hospital or nursing home is entitled to care. A caregiver, usually a doctor or a nurse, owes the patient a duty of care. Under negligence laws, a caregiver should act as a competent professional. Nursing homes and hospitals must have standards of care. In the case of bedsores, caregivers are responsible for enacting appropriate measures such as patient rotation or repositioning, as well as supportive surfaces and equipment that prevent or minimize bedsores.

Liability occurs when hospital and nursing home staff or caregivers fall short on providing the proper care to prevent the condition. The patient or the patient’s attorney must determine liability by proving that:

  • The caregiver owes the patient duty of care, which is inherently proven in the relationship.
  • The caregiver breached the duty of care by not practicing prevention or treatment of the sores.
  • The breach caused the patient’s injuries, which are the pressure ulcers.
  • The injury occurred and created damage that merits compensation.
Damages

Once a patient proves liability, he or she may seek damages from the medical facility or caregiver. Patients can seek monetary damages either by filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties or by pursuing a settlement outside of court. The damages awarded usually cover:

  • Treatment and medical care for the bedsores
  • Potential lost wages due to pain and treatment
  • Pain and suffering from the ulcers

Patients should seek monetary compensation for pressure ulcers caused by negligence, since treating the condition is expensive. The price of care and treatment for a single bedsore ranges from $3,500 and $60,000. These expenses vary depending on the stage of the bedsore, as well as any possible complications that develop such as infections, sepsis, cellulitis and even cancer. The highest amount of damages awarded after a bedsore lawsuit was more than $10 million.

Defenses Against Liability

Some caregivers attempt to defend themselves against liability by discrediting an element of the patient’s proof. The defendants may try to blame other pre-existing conditions on the patient. Many try to claim that conditions like obesity and advanced age caused the injuries. Settling a case out of court is impossible if the caregiver denies fault, and the case usually goes before a judge. The plaintiff must prove that the caregiver is responsible for the development or progress of the pressure ulcer.

Seeking Legal Action

Someone who develops a pressure ulcer while under medical care, or has a loved one with the condition, and believes the wound was a result of a caregiver’s lack of appropriate care should pursue legal action by contacting an attorney experienced in personal injuries.

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