Why are Immobile Patients at Risk for Developing Pressure Sores?

By Nursing Home Law Center

Common Sites of Bedsores

“Unrelieved pressure” may seem like an innocent term, but in the context of a patient at a medical facility with compromised mobility, it is anything but innocent. Rather, when patients are left in one position for long periods of time, the unrelieved pressure on the body can result in the gradual restriction in blood flow to the area.

Without the oxygen and nutrients in the blood, the area under pressure is compromised and surrounding tissue becomes unhealthy and eventually dies. As the tissue and muscle dies, the area may eventually give way to an open wound, frequently referred to as a pressure sore — given that the wound originated from unrelieved pressure.

Knowing that any patient at a medical facility who is left in one position— in a bed or wheelchair for extended periods of time — can develop a pressure sore, medical staff need to identify both the patients whom may be at an elevated risk and develop a plan of care to assure that the person remains free of pressure sores.

Unlike other medical conditions that may result from an error committed by an individual, the development of pressure sores during an admission to a nursing home, hospital or any type of long-term care facility is usually indicative of systemic problem as pressure sores are usually the result of shift-after-shift ignoring the needs of a patient over a course of weeks and even months.

Recognizing both the devastation that a bed sore has on the individual from a physical and psychological perspective compounded with the relatively basic preventative measures, Medicare has included the development of pressure sores during a hospitalization to its list of ‘never events’ — medical errors that are deemed to be so easily preventable that there is simply no excuse for allowing them to occur in the first place. With its spot firmly on the list of never events, hospitals can no longer seek reimbursement from Medicare for patients who developed pressure sores during a hospitalization at their facility.

Similarly, given the overwhelming studies that suggest the implementation of basic precautions like ‘turning’ or ‘off-loading patients’ with pressure sore prevention, most instances involving the development of pressure sore while under the watch of a caregiver or medical facility may be the result of staff negligence. A lawyer experienced with prosecuting cases involving the development of pressure sores during an admission to a medical facility should be able to both evaluate the circumstances and advise you of your legal rights.

Related Information

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