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Nursing Home Bed Sore Injury & Fatality Lawyers
Pressure sores (bedsores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) are common injuries suffered by nursing home residents. Bedsores are largely preventable injuries that can degrade into a full-fledged life-threatening infection without proper medical care.
In a worst-case scenario, the resident can die from sepsis (blood infection) or osteomyelitis (bone infection) resulting from the infection. Bedsores are horrific and preventable, usually caused by nursing home neglect or abuse.A Nursing Home Bed Sore Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Did your loved one suffer or die from bedsores in a nursing facility? You should seek representation from a bedsore lawyer to hold the facility accountable. 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-affiliated personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC has extensive experience with bedsores in elderly patients. Contact us now for legal advice during an initial free case evaluation.Nursing Home Bed Sore Injury FAQsWhat Causes Bedsores in Nursing Homes?
Bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) are skin wounds caused by pressure or excessive force on the skin over time. In nursing facilities, pressure wounds are often the result of a lack of adequate health care or neglect.
Older adults have a potentially higher risk of developing bedsores when they cannot move without assistance. Bedsores often develop and degrade from pressure, friction, shear force, and other contributing factors, including malnutrition and dehydration.Are Bedsores Due To Neglect?
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), pressure wounds are often the result of nursing home neglect. Some studies document that approximately forty-five percent of all assisted living residents state that they were maltreated or abused during the previous year.
Furthermore, researchers revealed that only about four percent of all nursing home abuse cases are ever reported. The facility staff must ensure that every mobility-challenged resident is repositioned at least once every two hours and remains hydrated while consuming a diet high in protein, zinc, iron, and Vitamins A and C.How Long Can You Live with a Stage 4 Bedsore?
Stage IV bedsores could degrade to a life-threatening condition where the decaying tissue reaches the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bone. Studies show that approximately 60,000 individuals with stage IV bedsore complications die every year.
The deadliest bedsores often degrade to a life-threatening condition, including sepsis (blood infection) and osteomyelitis (bone infection) requiring emergent care at a hospital. Approximately one out of every five nursing home patients suffering from sepsis die from the horrific condition.What Does a Bedsore Look like in the Beginning?
The nursing staff, family, and friends might identify the first signs of developing bedsores by their darkened, discolored, or reddened areas. Patients of African descent with dark skin tend to develop bedsores that look shiny, bluish, or purple.
During the early stage, developing bedsores will feel warm and hard to the touch.What Is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Bedsores?
The nursing home patient must seek immediate relief and help to circumvent an early developing bedsore. The patient should ensure that the pressure pushing on bony body parts is removed immediately, and any infection is treated right away.
In the future, ensure that the resident is repositioned every few hours, and their skin is assessed daily for any indicators of neglect or bed sores. Staying hydrated and consuming a well-balanced diet while moving every few hours and exercising each day might prevent bedsores.Can Stage 4 Bedsores Heal?
A stage IV bedsore could be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. The patient might require surgical debridement where dead (necrotic) tissue is cut away and removed.
The recovery time to resolve a stage IV pressure wound might take three months or longer. In some cases, a stage IV bedsore takes years to heal completely, if possible.
Gangrene present in a stage IV bedsore could create a life-and-death situation or, at a minimum, require the removal of the affected area.Identifying a Bedsore
Bedsores are called pressure sores because they occur when there is prolonged pressure on the skin for some time. When continuous pressure is exerted, the skin breaks down.
Once the skin is compromised, 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.
Residents who cannot move independently have a higher risk of developing bedsores.
Bedsores are often preventable issues that can be avoided through proper care on the nursing home staff. Indeed, 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
Bedsores can degrade to infection if the affected area continues to worsen. In some cases, a mild infection will degrade to sepsis (blood infection), which could cause the resident's death.What Nursing Facilities Must Legally Do to Prevent Bed Sores
Nursing caregivers need to assess the risk that a resident might develop bedsores. As stated above, those who cannot independently move have a high chance of developing decubitus ulcers.
The nursing staff must develop an effective care plan to minimize the risk of developing pressure wounds. At a minimum, the assisted living facility staff needs to change the resident's position at frequent intervals.
For example, the plan can state that a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) will reposition the resident every two hours. Appropriate care might include:
- Monitoring the patient's skin condition
- Repositioning the resident
- Keeping the skin dry
- Keeping pressure off bony areas of the body that might restrict blood flow
- Providing appropriate mattresses based on the regulated standard of care
- Infection control measures to improve the patient's medical condition
Staff members must stage every identifiable bedsore and categorize it by assigning a rating depending on its severity. The four bedsore stages include:
- Stage 1 – Itchy skin that feels warm and is slightly red during the early stage.
- Stage 2 – The discoloration is more severe, and the sore begins to blister and open.
- Stage 3 – The sore opens and becomes more of an open crater due to damage to the underlying tissue.
- Stage 4 – A hole develops into a deep open wound, exposing bone tissue caused by severe skin and tissue damage. At this stage, bedsores could become infected and lead to preventable wrongful death.
The medical professionals must treat and care for all developing bedsores after consulting with the physician who developed a care plan based on maximizing the resident's healing process. Often, this care plan involves continuously cleaning the wound and changing the bandages.
Debridement (cutting away necrotic (dead) tissue) and antibiotics are often effective bedsore treatments. If the proper care is given, bedsores could heel in just a few weeks. Once a pressure ulcer reaches Stages III and IV, they become difficult and expensive to treat.
Facility-acquired life-threatening degrading bedsores could be viewed as medical malpractice.Statistics on Bedsores Amongst Elderly Patients
Some facilities maintain bedsore rates as low as two percent of nursing home patients, while the worst-performing facilities can have rates nearing twenty-five percent or hire. According to survey statistics, national rates of bedsores are usually around eleven percent.
Unfortunately, bedsores are a common occurrence in many skilled nursing facilities. Stage II 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 and lesser ability to move.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, it does not reflect favorably on the level of care provided at the nursing facility.
Many bedsore lawsuits settled before going to trial because jurors might assess punitive damages against the nursing home if the staff's negligence was egregious. The affiliate-network of elder abuse attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can detail and describe that conduct to the jury throughout a trial.Sample Pressure Ulcer Lawsuits and Settlements
Jury verdict for $3.5 million in Pennsylvania (2007) – After a resident with Alzheimer's disease was admitted to the facility, he fell and broke his hip, requiring 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 thoroughly clean the resident's pressure sores, leading to an infection. The plaintiff presented evidence proving that the staff members slept on the job, and because of that, failed to turn him when needed every couple of hours properly.
The jury did not agree with the facility's arguments that the life-threatening pressure sores were part of Alzheimer's disease's natural progression. The plaintiff was awarded $3.5 million for damages.
Settlement for $525,000 in New York (2006) – Within two weeks after arriving at the nursing facility, the resident began to develop pressure sores 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 plaintiff 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 (2010) – The staff diagnose the resident with a Stage I pressure wound and Stage II pressure ulcer on his hips after returning to the facility from a hospital stay. The pressure ulcers worsened each to life-threatening Stage IV ulcers and became necrotic (dead tissue) 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.
Arbitration Award for $1,260,000 in Massachusetts (2010) – 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 facility with septic shock.
The pressure ulcer had degenerated to where the bone protruded through the skin. Although the resident did not die from decubitus ulcers, the lawsuit claimed that the bedsores impeded his recovery from the stroke and reversed any progress that was made in rehabilitation.
Settlement for $650,000 in Illinois (2007) – The resident developed a large necrotic sacral (tailbone) 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 facility allegedly did not notice a growing pressure ulcer and did not properly treat it once they did discover it. The resident claimed that the pressure ulcer required surgery and a long-term stay at a rehabilitation facility.
Settlement for $990,000 in New Jersey (2013) – The resident allegedly developed twenty-seven different pressure ulcers during their twenty months at the nursing facility. The ulcers were concentrated on the resident's hips, heels, and ankles.
The neglect lawsuit claimed that the facility did not adequately monitor and document the resident's skin condition, which led to an excessive amount of pressure ulcers. The family claimed that the elderly resident was left to lie in his urine and that his diapers were not adequately changed.Did Your Loved One Develop a Bed Sore While Residing at a Nursing Home? Speak to an Attorney Now
Has your family member suffered from bedsores that caused injury, pain, and suffering or resulted in their death? You might have a valid legal claim for compensation.
The network of affiliated bedsore attorneys at the NHLC has helped families file bed sore lawsuits and can assist your family too.
Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our personal injury lawyers remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.Resources: