Does Your Loved One Have Untreated Bedsores in a Nursing Home?

Friday, July 29, 2022

Does Your Loved One Have Untreated Bedsores in a Nursing Home?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Abuse and neglect in nursing homes is a serious issue in America. People believe their loved ones will be taken care of and treated with respect when paying to send them to a home for assisted living in their old age.  However, when signs of abuse or neglect appear, it is important to be very cognizant and alert to the signs of this in order to protect your loved one.  One major sign of this is untreated bedsores.

The first step is to report the issue to the nursing home staff. You can call the state’s long-term care ombudsman program if they don’t do anything about it. A third party will visit your loved one in the nursing home and investigate the issue with them. If they find that your loved one has bedsores, then they will work with the nursing home staff to fix the problem.

If ongoing or untreated bedsores are a problem plaguing your family or friend in nursing care, your loved one may be entitled to compensation. Discuss the situation with a nursing home lawyer in Chicago.

What is a Bedsore?

Bedsores are open wounds (a.k.a. pressure ulcers) that generally occur where bonier areas of the body experience constant pressure or friction on the bed surface. Unlike a rash or acne, as the term may imply, bedsores are not mere “skin conditions.” Bedsores are most common on the posterior/glutes, elbows, heels, knees, and the outside of the ankles. These completely preventable sores are toxic and can lead to painful and fatal infections. In fact, bedsores are responsible for the death of “Superman” Christopher Reeve.

What Causes Nursing Home Bedsores?

Several things can cause nursing home bedsores:

  • Prolonged pressure on the same area of the skin. The best way to prevent bedsores is to avoid putting pressure on the same skin area for too long. This is because it causes the skin to break down and form an ulcer.
  • Immobility also makes it more likely that someone will develop bedsores because they are not moving their muscles, which can weaken them over time.
  • Decreased blood circulation can also lead to bedsores because if there isn’t enough blood flowing through the body, it cannot heal wounds or repair tissue as efficiently.

How Common Are Bedsores?

Nursing home bedsore statistics of note from the CDC and NCBI include

  • Roughly a quarter of people in nursing homes have bedsores.
  • Residents under 65 years old were more likely to have bedsores than older residents
  • Those staying for a year or less were more likely to have bedsores than those with longer stays
  • One in five residents with recent weight loss had bedsores
  • 16% to 20% of ICU patients in our country will eventually develop bedsores.
  • About 30% of completely avoidable medical conditions acquired during hospital stays are bedsores.
  • More than a million bedsores were acquired in medical facilities in 2015 in the US.
  • 35% of those with stage 2 bedsores or higher needed special wound care services

Complications from Nursing Home Bedsores

Bedsores can have many complications, such as:

  1. Infections: Infected bedsores can cause fever, chills, confusion, racing heart, and weakness. Infections from nursing home bedsores can also enter joints and bones, damaging cartilage and tissue. Others may develop cellulitis, a skin and soft tissue infection that causes warmth, redness, and swelling.
  2. Cancer: Some wounds that do not heal can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
  3. Sepsis: In very severe cases, nursing home bedsores can turn into sepsis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs due to an existing infection.

Nursing home staff members are fully knowledgeable on how to treat bedsores before they cause serious health problems. If the staff members fail to do so, they must be held legally responsible for any complications that a resident develops from untreated bedsore.

Remember that untreated bedsores are a red flag that your loved one may be experiencing abuse or neglect at their nursing home facility, so at the very least, you should investigate the reasons behind these signs of neglect and pursue legal action if necessary.

Preventing Bedsores

Before choosing a nursing facility for your loved one, ask about their bedsore procedures and how many patients they have currently suffering from them. What is their treatment protocol for bedsores? How often do they reposition bedridden patients? Do they use or allow water beds, which provide even pressure throughout the body? Also, watch for these things once your loved one starts living at the facility:

  • Your loved one’s skin should be dry and clean at all times. Sometimes people in a coma or with other bedridden conditions have trouble regulating their body temperatures and circulating their blood well. Far too many are constantly sweating. A bedridden patient who sweats all day long in their sheets requires constant bathing and repositioning. See if it’s possible to adjust their room’s temperature and/or bedding situation.
  • The bedridden person should be in loose-fitting comfortable clothing that does not restrict blood flow or dig into the skin (zippers, buttons, big seams).
  • Bedridden people need exercise to reduce fluids from stagnating in bonier areas and turning to sores.
  • Ensure that pillows are placed between the knees and/or ankles when lying on the side of the body. Pillows can also be placed between the arm and the rib cage when lying on the side. When laying face-up, pillows can be placed under the knees to keep the heel bones off the mattress.
  • A bedridden person should never be positioned on their stomach. Even if they have been a stomach sleeper all of their life, this position puts too much pressure on the hip bones for someone who is now confined to a bed.
  • Solutions like memory foam mattress toppers, auto-inflating air mattresses, and sheepskin bed coverings can help reduce pressure on bony areas.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home for Bedsores

You may be able to file a lawsuit if your loved one has bedsores in a nursing home in the Chicago area. Bed sores can be caused by neglect and lack of attention, which is why they are so common in nursing homes. If you believe that your loved one has bed sores because of neglect, the nursing home should be accountable for any losses.

Holding Nursing Homes Responsible

If your loved one is suffering from untreated bedsores, it is almost certain that neglect or abuse is present.  It is essential that you hold a nursing home responsible for any abuse or neglect at which a loved one of yours has suffered. Your loved one deserves just compensation if they are suffering at the hands of neglect or abuse by nursing home staff.

It is critical to monitor the care your loved one receives. Warning signs, such as bedsores in a long-term care facility, should never be taken lightly, as they are a major red flag for ongoing nursing home abuse.

Nursing home neglect or abuse is a situation that requires a just remedy, and holding the nursing home liable for its neglect or abuse is the best means to bring justice to rectify the situation. It will also provide compensation for the harm suffered by your loved one that can be used for proper medical treatment and other losses. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse due to untreated bedsores or other reasons, you need to contact the right law firm suited to handle these unique and troubling cases.

Need a Chicago Nursing Home Bedsore Attorney? Malman Law Can Help

If your loved one is experiencing stage 3, 4, or 5 bedsores and it has been an ongoing problem in their current nursing facility or hospital, please reach out to our Chicago bedsore lawyers right away. Contact Malman Law now for a free legal consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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