Individuals in hospitals and nursing homes are often frail and have poor mobility. Because they spend long hours in their beds in the same position, they are at risk for developing painful pressure sores, also known as bedsores. Medically referred to as decubitus ulcers, these sores are often a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. This is especially true when the individual had no history or existing sores at the time of their admission.
Bedsores are extremely painful and take much longer to heal than other types of sores. Often they become life-threatening infections and because the individuals suffering from them are in failing health, these sores can turn fatal.
According to statistics offered by the Centers for Disease Control, 11 percent of the nation’s nursing home patients have one or more bedsores present.
Bedsores are skin lesions that are the direct result of constant pressure on the bony areas of the body, such as the spine, back of the head, hips, tailbone, ankles, heels, and elbows. The pressure decreases blood flow, which then decreases oxygen to the tissue, causing that tissue to die. People with paralysis, poor nutrition, circulatory issues, and dementia are at higher risk for these sores.
Medical professionals classify bedsores into four categories that range from a simple persistent reddened area on the skin (stage one) to a deep, life-threatening lesion that has already reached the bone (stage four).
Federal health regulations are strict about how to prevent and treat bedsores. Nursing homes and hospitals are obligated to identify patients who are at risk for developing them and to take preventative action. Creating a “care plan” that discusses how to rotate the patient’s body and treat bedsores from appearing or increasing in severity is also required. Unfortunately, most of the staff assisting these limited mobility patients are not qualified to identify the early stages of bedsores, and with nursing homes short on critical staff, bedsores can easily be ignored.
Conducting frequent inspections, regularly turning and repositioning the patient, and using pressure relieving devices is key to inhibiting the development of bedsores.
Stage one and stage two bedsores often heal with non-invasive, conservative treatments. More advanced sores, such as those at stage three and four, require debridement where the damage and infected tissue is removed and bandaging of the affected area. Sometimes reconstruction is required; this surgery often has the highest percentage of complications for elderly and frail individuals – even if the patient survives the procedure, recovery is painful, long, and extremely difficult.
Almost all bedsore cases are signs of neglect, and if a bedsore is allowed to continue and worsen into more serious stages, the medical professionals overseeing care can be held liable for any infections, medical costs, or death associated with those bedsores.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital and has developed bedsores, speak with an attorney right away. The attorneys at Malman Law will help you explore your options and exercise your right to compensation, ensuring those responsible are held accountable for their negligent actions. Contact us online or call 888-625-6265 for a consultation appointment.