Bedsores From a Florida Elder Abuse Law Firm Perspective
Bedsores, also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, frequently occur in nursing homes and hospitals as a result of nursing negligence. Bed sore lawsuits are the most common injury claim we handle here at Senior Justice Law Firm, and our lawyers have represented over 1,000 bed sore victims over the years. Bedsores are not an acceptable part of a hospitalization or nursing home residency. These pressure ulcers are largely preventable and stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcers have been determined to be a “never event” by our Federal government (meaning they should never occur in healthcare). If your loved one developed a bed sore inside a nursing home, assisted living facility or hospital, call us now toll-free at 1-844-253-8919 to learn more about your options.
So What are Bedsores?
Bedsores are also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers. They are caused by injury to the skin and the underlying tissues due to unrelieved pressure. When an at-risk patient cannot move themselves in bed on their own, the nursing home or hospital nurses must reposition the patient every 2 hours to offload pressure and prevent bedsores. If the facility staff is not doing this every 2 hours, this is an example of nursing neglect. Federal laws are in place to ensure and protect patients from this carelessness, although bedsores are still rampant throughout long term care facilities, usually due to understaffed and overworked nurses.
Bedsores most often occur on bony areas of the body, which aren’t covered by fat or muscle. Common pressure ulcer areas are the buttocks, low back (sacrum), hips, tailbone, heels, and ankles. People suffering from immobilizing medical conditions and elderly people who struggle with movement are most at risk. Pressure ulcers can develop very quickly and are difficult to treat once they occur.
Untreated bedsores are very serious and can lead to severe infection.
My Family Member Developed a Bedsore:
What Should I Do?
If nursing duties such as turning a patient, proper bathing and hygiene are not followed, a bedsore can result causing unnecessary pain and suffering. Untreated bed sores can result in sepsis and wrongful death. There are devastating effects that these wounds have on the individual and their family, so a developing bed sore must be addressed quickly and appropriately, before it is too late.
If you notice any pressure sores on your family member, you should notify the doctor and the head nurse immediately. Document the nursing home bedsore with pictures. Create a list of the nurses and doctors you have spoken with about the wound. If the pressure ulcer is severe, you need to seek legal advice. Facilities should be held responsible for these horrendous and preventable wounds. The law provides for an avenue of recovery through the civil justice system. This is called a bedsore neglect lawsuit, and this claim can be filed against the negligent nursing home or hospital where the bed sore developed. Speak with our bed sore law firm today for your free case consultation.
How Do Bed Sores Form in Nursing Homes?
Lack of movement due to age or medical condition and improper hygiene are major factors in developing bed sores. Pressure sores result from restricted blood flow in a particular area, usually heels, buttocks, back and head. If the patient is not repositioned by nurses often, and properly, the sores or ulcers develop. After a bed sore has developed, the medical condition of the patient and poor hygiene can hinder the healing process. If a patient is left in their own urine in clothing or a bed, further underlying infections can result. The deteriorating skin can be permanently damaged.
Regular movement of patients at scheduled times, at least every two hours, and properly checking to make sure that their clothing and bedding are dry are the responsibility of the nursing home or hospital. If the facility is doing an adequate job of hiring and training personnel, these routine patient care techniques should be in place. Special pillows, cushions, air mattresses and other items can be used to reduce pressure on the skin and should be used for regularly for non-mobile patients.
Bedsore Photos and Staging of Bedsores
Bed sore photos are shocking and revolting. Bedsore pictures usually show a gaping hole in the skin, typically on the backside (sacrum) or the heels. They are painful, unsightly, and can lead to deadly infections such as sepsis or MRSA. Bed sores are staged based on severity from a Stage 1 to a Stage 4. A stage 1 bedsore is a smaller red spot, whereas a stage 4 bedsore is a severe, cavernous wound, which may be infected with osteomyelitis. Below are professional pressure injury illustrations which depict the various stages of bedsores. If you are unsure which stage bedsore your family member has developed, speak with our bedsore attorneys today so that we can obtain the relevant medical records and determine the stage of the wound.
Documenting your family member’s wound with photographs is crucial. They say a photograph is worth 1,000 words. This is true in bedsore neglect claims. Pictures of the wound are necessary to as prove 1) that the bedsore existed and 2) to date when the bedsore developed. Bedsore pictures can be used against the nursing home or hospital later in court. Never rely on the facility to document the bedsore with photographs! Even if you see the wound care team taking pictures of the pressure ulcer, do not assume that those photos will make it into the medical record. Be sure to document the wound yourself by taking your own photographs, which can serve as evidence later on in your nursing home abuse claim.
Bedsore Statistics in Nursing Homes and Hospitals
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 10% of patients residing in nursing homes suffer from pressure sores. Of those patients with bed sores, 50% of them were higher than a Stage II bedsore, which means that it was a severe pressure ulcer. Pressure ulcers are a ‘never event’ in hospitals and nursing homes. This means pressure sores should never occur inside a facility and there is usually no excuse for bedsore formation. The most common victim of bedsores are patients over the age of 60 who have compromised mobility. When a patient has compromised mobility, it means that they cannot move or reposition themselves in bed. Statistically, bedsores occur far more often in nursing homes versus hospitals or in-home elder care. This is likely due to systemic understaffing in America’s nursing home industry. If there are not enough nurses working on a facility floor, not all the at-risk patients will be turned and repositioned. When patients are neglected and left lying in bed in their own urine and feces, infected bedsores develop. Although statistically most bed sore sufferers reside in nursing homes, hospital-acquired bedsores do occur and are usually due to patient neglect as well.
Common causes of pressure ulcers in long term care facilities include patient neglect, inattentive nurses failing to reposition and move the resident every 2 hours, caretaker understaffing and dehydration and malnutrition.
Families entrust the care of a family member to the facility, nursing staff, and healthcare providers to provide the best possible care for their loved ones on a daily basis. Bedsores take a while to develop. It is not something that happens overnight. These sores are clear indication that the facility is not providing basic care to their patients. Shockingly, patients are more likely to develop these pressure sores in today’s nursing homes and hospitals than at any other time. With budget cuts and realignments in the medical sector, facility nurses are understaffed. Nurses are also undertrained and doing jobs for which they are not qualified or trained, resulting in inadequate care of patients, which is unacceptable. Studies such as those documented in the National Library of Medicine National Institution of Health stated that patients admitted to hospitals from a nursing home were more than five times more likely to have pressure sores.
What Does it Feel Like to Have a Bedsore?
After years of representing bedsore victims, we have spoken with many victims of painful bed sores. Patients have described a painful, infected bedsore as absolute misery. It may start out as a mild irritation, but it can soon develop into debilitating pain and an infection which could profoundly change a patient’s life. This means that patient is never able to get comfortable and is in constant pain from the wound.
Most of these pressure injuries are not skin deep either; the most common pressure sore severity was stage 2 or higher. That means that tens of thousands of elderly patients are living with opened, untreated sores; putting them at risk of infection and long term damage. Not only do these sores develop as a physical illness, it can also effect the patient psychologically, making a difficult situation even more problematic.
Who is At Risk for Bedsores?
As mentioned above, nursing home residents are more likely to develop bedsores than hospital patients. Potential risk boosters of bedsores in nursing homes and hospitals include:
- Aging – elderly people have thinner skin, this vastly increases their risk of getting ulcers.
- Can’t feel pain – some elderly people have nerve disorders that prevent them from feeling the pain and discomfort that lets a person know they need to change their position in bed.
- Incontinence – the moisture associated with incontinence can boost chances of developing pressure injuries. Urine and feces also add to the risk of infecting the pressure ulcer wound.
- Malnutrition – deficiencies in certain nutrients can skyrocket your chances of developing a bedsore and makes developed bedsores harder to treat.
- Diabetes or vascular disease – both make the first stages of bedsores occur faster and make existing bedsores harder to treat. However, vascular blood flow insufficiencies are not always excuses for pressure ulcer development.
- Smoking – nicotine acts in a similar way to the above circulatory disease, restricting blood flow and not allowing proper circulation to the affected area.
How Does Nutrition Impact Bedsores?
The medical community is in agreement that improper nutrition is a common cause of bedsores.
Malnutrition appears to be a common contributor to bedsore occurrence in nursing homes, but other less severe nutritional deficiencies can also make bedsores more common. This is why it is crucial that the nursing home staff carefully monitors the patient’s nutrition levels, in order to prevent skin breakdown. Repositioning a patient is not enough to prevent skin breakdown. The facility must ensure that the patient is getting appropriate nutrition and hydration as well.
A balanced diet can not only reduce the likelihood of bedsores developing, but also significantly improve healing times of existing bedsores.
The nutritional deficiencies that increase bedsore risk are:
- Vitamin C
These increase your risk because they are crucial for the strength of your skin and your body’s ability to heal.
Try to make sure your family member is getting more of the following:
- Meat, eggs, and dairy – for protein and zinc
- Fruit & Vegetables – for vitamin C
If the patient is unable to eat solid foods, speak with the facility’s nutritionist about setting up feeding alternatives. A recent study shows the positive effect nursing home patients with bedsores experienced after undergoing a nutrition intervention. When the nutrition experts took control of the patients’ nutrition, bedsore healing rates were significantly higher. This was likely because they were getting enough of these nutrients compared to their previous nursing home diet.
Preventing Bedsores in Nursing Homes
Preventing pressure sores in nursing homes and hospitals is a relatively straightforward task. If a nurse is on top of providing the required care to the patient, a bedsore will not form. Unfortunately, nursing homes often times fail reposition immobile individuals every 2 hours, fail to properly place cream on existing small pressure sores, and fail to give proper nutrition intervention to those at risk. This allows bedsores to form.
Here is a quick checklist that can be used to prevent bedsores in nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities:
- Reposition the patient at least every two hours in bed and every 15 minutes in a wheelchair
- Place special creams on the bedsore to help the wound heal and stay clean
- Utilize a special air loss mattress to offload pressure of the affected area
- Use a wound vac on existing pressure ulcers
- If the wound is severe enough, plastic surgery can be performed to close off the wound and prevent further infection and deterioration
Because these preventative measures are the nursing home’s responsibilities, the best thing to do is to equip yourself with the knowledge about bed sore prevention and communicate with the facility management so that they provide the appropriate standard of care to you or your family member. Remember, appropriate care is their responsibility, not yours.
What To Do If Your Caregivers are Failing You
Pressure sore lawsuits are becoming common in the US, primarily because healthcare experts agree there is no reason for many bedsores to occur.
If a nursing home has a bedsore problem, there may be a larger facility-wide systemic patient neglect problem. If you have a potential bedsore lawsuit, contact an attorney focusing on elder abuse cases.
Bedsore Neglect Lawsuit
Most bedsores develop due to negligence on the part of hospital or nursing home nurses. Tragically, this cycle continues because only 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse in the U.S. actually get reported. This allows the negligent facilities to continue to neglect their patients, thereby creating more bedsores and resulting injuries.
Our lawyers have years of experience litigating bedsore negligence lawsuits. Our bed sore attorneys have handled hundreds of pressure ulcer claims, and even achieved multi-million-dollar jury verdicts in bedsore cases. We understand how enraging a preventable pressure ulcer can be, especially considering the lethal health impact it can have on an elderly patient. We understand that these cases are about much more than just money; it is about justice.
Now Is the Time to Take Action
If you or a loved one are suffering from bedsores, take action. Don’t allow other people in the facility to suffer the seemingly endless cycle of elder abuse. Be a voice for the voiceless and stand up to patient neglect.
Contact us now for your free case consultation at 1-844-253-8919.