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Can a Hospital be Pursued for Medical Malpractice When a Patient Develops Bed Sores During a Hospitalization?
By Nursing Home Law Center
Some hospitals have forgotten that they have a duty to both tend to their patients’ acute condition as well as their overall medical care needs. As the largest organ in the body, hospitals must remember to take care of the patient’s skin. When skin care goes ignored, hospital patients are prone to develop bed sores during their admission.
Particularly in patients who may be recovering from a surgery or illness that leaves them with compromised mobility, hospital staff must take efforts to move the patients on regular intervals and retain the blood circulation.
Extended periods in a hospital bed can put pressure on areas of the body that have little tissue or muscle to disperse the pressure. Even relatively short periods of extended immobilization can result in unrelieved pressure that impairs blood flow and eventually causes the skin and tissue covering the pressure point to die. As the tissue dies, the underlying tissues and bone may be exposed resulting in a condition known as a bed sore.
Hospital Bed Sores: A Widespread Problem
Far from being an isolated complication, hospital acquired bed sores impact thousands of patients every year leaving them with a complication that may be more complex and painful to heal than their underlying illness that they were originally admitted for.
Even at some of the most prestigious medical facilities across the country, hospital acquired bed sores remain a real threat to the well being of patients. Recognizing the significant threat to patient health, the federal government (Medicare) has added hospital acquired bed sores (also referred to as: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) to its list of ‘Never Events’. As part of the list of never events, hospitals can no longer seek reimbursement for care they provide to patients who have developed a stage 3 or stage 4 bed sore during their hospitalization.
Hospital Bed Sores: Medical Malpractice?
When a person does develop a bed sore at a hospital, they may be entitled to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the medical center based upon the applicable medical malpractice laws. Under the medical malpractice laws in most jurisdictions, a lawsuit based upon the development of a bed sore during a hospitalization may entitle the patient to recover damages for their medical bills, disability and pain.
Because the medical malpractice laws in each jurisdiction may impose procedural requirements prior to filing a lawsuit, such as having a physician review a patient’s medical chart, it is important to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as feasible when a hospital acquired bed sore has been identified.