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Nursing Home Bed Sore Injury & Fatality Lawyers
Pressure sores (bed sores), otherwise known as pressure ulcers, are one of the most common injuries suffered by residents of nursing homes. Bedsores are a largely preventable injury that can grow into a full-fledged infection without proper medical care.
In a worst-case scenario, the resident can die from sepsis resulting from the infection. Bedsores are perhaps the most prevalent injury that forms the basis of a lawsuit against a nursing home.
Oftentimes, the fact patterns involved in a successful bedsores lawsuit are on the more egregious side, with evidence of neglect of the patient.
Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Prosecuting Bed Sore Cases
If your family member has suffered from bedsores and has sustained an injury as a result, you should seek the representation from a bedsore lawyer in order to hold the facility accountable with a nursing lawsuit against the center.
Legal counsel can help you prove that bedsore resulted from the inattention of either the nursing care or the medical care at the facility where your loved one resides.
The network of affiliated elder abuse attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center has extensive experience with bedsores in nursing home residents.
What is a Bedsore?
Bedsores are called pressure sores (or decubitus ulcers) because they occur when there is prolonged pressure on the skin for a period of time.
When continuous pressure is exerted blood flow to the tissue is restricted, the skin breaks down. Once the skin is compromised in the affected area, the underlying tissue is at risk as well.
Nursing home residents will usually get bedsores on areas of their body that continuously presses against a surface, such as their buttocks, back and heel. Nursing home patients who do not have the ability to move independently have a higher risk of developing bedsores.
The most common areas for bed sores to develop are on bony areas of the body including:
- Back of the head
Certainly, the most severe cases often involve some instances along the way where the staff member did not provide the resident with an adequate level of care.
Side Effects of Bedsores
The most common side effect of a bedsore is that a patient develops an infection if the decubitus ulcers continue to get worse. An advanced stage bed sore results in pain and disability to the patient and prevents them from recovery
Other medical complications associated with bed sores include:
What Does a Nursing Facility Legally Need to Do to Prevent Bed Sores?
Nursing facilities need to assess the risk that a patient may develop a bedsore. As stated above, those who do not have the ability to independently move have an elevated chance of decubitus ulcers.
The nursing staff will need to have a care plan in place to address this risk. Once a plan is created, staff at the center need to implement the plan and update as needed.
At a minimum, the nursing home staff needs to change the resident’s position at frequent intervals. For example, the plan can state that a CNA will move the nursing home patient every two hours.
In addition, appropriate care to prevent bed sores can include:
- Monitoring of skin condition
- Repositioning of the resident
- Keeping skin dry
- Keeping pressure off bony areas of the body
- Providing appropriate mattresses
- Infection control measures
When nursing homes, assisted living facilities or hospitals fail to provide the medical care a patient requires and they develop a bed sore, the family of the patient can file a negligence lawsuit against the nursing home.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Explain Bed Sore Stages and Their Significance
When a patient develops a bedsore, it needs to be staged. This is another term for assigning a rating depending on how severe the bedsore is.
The staging system provides a standardized system so medical professionals can implement care for a patient.
Here are the four stages of bedsores:
- Stage 1 – Itchy skin that feels warm and is slightly red.
- Stage 2 – The discoloration is more severe and the sore begins to open.
- Stage 3 – The developing bedsores opens and becomes more of an open crater due to damage to the underlying tissue.
- Stage 4 – The hole becomes an open wound and bone may be seen due to severe damage to skin and tissue. Stage 4 bedsores can become easily infected and patients are at risk for serious medical complications or even death.
Medical Treatments for Bedsores
If a bedsore has developed, it must be treated and cared for by nursing home staff. The resident’s physician must be consulted. The physician will provide a care plan that nursing staff must follow.
They should document the care that they provide. Oftentimes, this care plan involves continuously cleaning the wound and changing the bandages with the assistance of a physician or nurse who has experience with wound care.
Debridement and antibiotics can also help treat these bedsores. If the proper care is given, bedsores can be healed in a matter of weeks. Once a pressure ulcer reaches stage 3 and stage 4, they become difficult and expensive to treat.
Statistics on Bedsores Amongst Elderly Patients in Nursing Homes
Pressure sore rates vary widely depending on the nursing center. Some facilities have rates of bedsores as low as two percent of patients, while the worst-performing nursing facilities can have rates nearing 25 percent.
According to survey statistics, national rates of bedsores are usually around 11 percent. Unfortunately, bedsores are a common occurrence in many skilled nursing facilities.
Stage 2 decubitus ulcers are the most common, accounting for nearly half the instances of bedsores. Statistics show that older nursing home residents are more likely to develop pressure sores due to a combination of weakened skin, poor nutrition, unrelieved pressure and lesser ability to move.
Why Bed Sores Are a Type of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
When a loved one develops a bed sore during an admission to a nursing home or other type of care facility, families will have immediate concern about their loved one's medical condition. Feelings of concern may give way to anger or frustration against the facility for allowing the wound to develop in the first place.
These feelings are certainly justified in the case where a patient has a severe bed sore. Advanced pressure sores develop over time and are the result of staff failing to do their job. In many instances, early stage wounds are ignored and go unreported.
While it may be a matter of semantics, the truth is that bed sores are one of the most inhumane and painful conditions found in nursing home patients. Call them what you like-- but bed sores can most certainly be considered abuse in nursing homes.
Bedsore Lawsuits: Why Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help Get You Compensation
There are approximately 17,000 lawsuits filed in the U.S. each year for pressure sores, although this number includes hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Many of these cases end up settling before trial. While a bedsore is not an indicator of negligence in itself, it does not reflect highly on the level of care provided at the nursing facility.
While many bedsore lawsuits will settle before trial, medical facilities run the risk of being assessed punitive damages in the event that the cases proceed to trial.
Especially in cases where the home’s neglect is more shocking, juries can award large punitive damages. The network of affiliated elder abuse attorneys at the NHLC can detail and describe that conduct to the jury over the course of a trial. Each affiliated lawyer is part of their own law firm and operates independently.
Compensation Available in a Nursing Home Negligence Case
The first step in prosecuting a nursing home negligence case involving bed sores is to demonstrate that the facility where the wound developed was negligent and failed to meet the applicable standard of care.
After negligence has been established, damages can be addressed. Similar to other personal injury cases, damages in a bed sore case consist of economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Medical bills for all past and future care
- Pain and suffering
- Out of pocket expenses
- Specialized medical equipment
- Disability and emotional damage
In the case where a patient has died due to bed sore complications, the family may be able to pursue a wrongful death case against the facility to recover compensation for their loss of emotional and financial support.
Sample Nursing Home Pressure Sore Lawsuits and Settlements
Below are some sample bed sore lawsuits involving nursing homes patients. We encourage you to review these with a grain of salt as many cases may appear to be similar to your situation, but the underlying circumstances may be quite different.
Should you have additional questions about a bed sore case against a nursing home or assisted living facility, we invite you to contact our team of attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Jury verdict for $3.5 million in Pennsylvania, Medical Malpractice / Wrongful Death
The nursing home resident had Alzheimer’s disease. After he entered the facility, he fell and broke his hip and required nursing care every two hours due to his limited mobility. The resident developed pressure sores and the family claimed that it was because of neglect.
Medical testimony showed that nursing home staff failed to properly clean the resident’s pressure sores leading to an infection. The plaintiff presented evidence that staff was literally sleeping on the job and, because of that, failed to properly turn the resident as required.
The jury did not give credence to the facility’s arguments that the pressure sores were part of the natural progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This was one case in which bed sore attorneys could show the jury evidence of negligence on the part of the facility.
Settlement for $525,000 in New York, Wrongful Death
Within two weeks after arriving at the nursing center, the nursing home resident began to develop pressure sores. The bedsores were on the patient's hips, ankles and shoulder blades.
These ultimately worsened to Stage IV decubitus ulcers on the buttocks and the resident went into septic shock and died. One of the main contentions of the medical malpractice claim was that the staff did not follow the proper protocol in directing and following a care plan for decubitus ulcers.
Verdict for $592,429 In Texas, Medical Malpractice
After returning to the nursing facility after a hospital stay, the resident was diagnosed with a Stage I and Stage II pressure ulcer on his hips. The pressure ulcers worsened each to Stage IV ulcers. Both of the bedsores became necrotic and infected.
The plaintiffs alleged that the nursing failed to factor in the resident’s risk to the care plan and did not reposition the resident as required. The resident was hospitalized and underwent a debridement surgery before being returned to the home.
Even after he returned, he continued to suffer from pressure ulcers. The resident ultimately died from the pressure ulcers as a result of nursing neglect.
Arbitration Award for $1,260,000 in Massachusetts
A man was transferred to home to recover from a stroke. Within two weeks of arrival, the man had developed a Stage III pressure ulcer. The resident was eventually transferred to the center with septic shock.
The pressure ulcer had degenerated to the point where the bone was protruding. Although the resident did not die from decubitus ulcers, the family's law firm filed a personal injury lawsuit claiming that the bed sores impeded his recovery from the stroke and reversed any progress that was made in rehabilitation.
Settlement for $650,000 in Illinois
The resident developed a large necrotic sacral pressure ulcer one month after being transferred to a skilled nursing facility. The lawsuit alleged that the plan to care for and prevent pressure ulcers did not have any individualized consideration of the resident’s condition.
In addition, the nursing center allegedly did not notice a growing pressure ulcer and did not properly treat it once they did discover it. The resident claimed that the facility failed to prevent the pressure ulcer required surgery and required a long-term stay at a rehabilitation center.
Settlement for $990,000 in New Jersey
The resident allegedly developed 27 different pressure ulcers during their 20 months at the nursing center. The ulcers were concentrated on the resident’s hips, heels, and ankles. The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that the facility did not adequately monitor and document the resident’s skin condition which led to the development of an inordinate amount of pressure ulcers.
The family claimed that the elderly resident was left to lie in his own urine and that his diapers were not properly changed.
Did Your Loved One Develop a Bed Sore While Residing at a Nursing Home? Get Legal Help Now.
If your family member suffered from a bed sore that caused them injury or resulted in additional pain and suffering, you may be able to pursue a legal claim for compensation. Call the network of affiliated bedsore attorneys at the NHLC for a free confidential case assessment.
We have helped families file bed sore lawsuits against nursing homes across the United States.
We will help you stand up to the nursing home and their corporate management if your loved one has suffered from a bedsore. Call us today at (800) 926-7565 (toll free) for a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney.
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