Nursing Home Bed Sores & Pressure Sores
Nursing Home Bed Sores Attorney
Pressure Sore Lawsuit Information – Free Consultations 24/7
Bedsores (also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcers) are different terms used to describe the same problem – the formation of a wound as a result of a particular part of the body being put under prolonged pressure. Bed sores can develop while the resident is lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair or being otherwise immobile and are typically exacerbated by friction or excess moisture on the skin.
Once formed, bedsores are very painful, can take months to heal and can complicate existing health problems. It is not unusual for nursing home residents to die as a result of infections that develop from bed sores.
Bed sores are common injuries experienced by nursing home residents, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious or preventable. When bedsores occur, it might be a sign of nursing home neglect. That’s where The Carlson Law Firm comes in. We provide legal assistance to elderly individuals and their families who have suffered bed sores or pressure sores in nursing homes, hospitals and elderly care facilities across the country.
If you or someone you love has suffered due the negligence of a nursing home facility, contact our team of nationally-recognized nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys today for a free consultation. We are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your loved one deserves the best representation for injuries caused by neglect in a nursing home. Our firm has some of the leading nursing home neglect and abuse attorney in the industry.
What Causes A Bed Sore?
Bed sores develop on the bony prominence of the body when there is continuous pressure on that area. Areas most at risk for pressure sores include:
- Coccyx (tailbone)
- Back or side of head
- Shoulder blades
- Lower back
- Skin behind the knees
Immobile nursing home residents will likely develop bed sores if those charged with their care do not take consistent measures to reposition the resident and relieve the pressure.
Friction: Friction is when two forces rub together. Friction wounds are caused when the skin is rubbed against another object. These types of wounds can be caused when bed sheets are dragged across the skin, or when a rope is rubbed against the palms when climbing a rope. This is especially true if the skin is tender or wet. It is imperative that nursing home employees keep the fabric rubbing against the skin to a minimum. Additionally, they should ensure clothing and linens are dry and clean.
Shearing: Shearing is friction plus the force of gravity. Shearing occurs when the patient is in a bed that can be raised or lowered, for example, to sit in an upright position. When forces moving in opposite directions are applied to tissues in the body, like when the skin is stuck to a surface, such as a bed, while gravity forces the body down on the bed, pressure sores develop. For example, imagine the head of a patient’s bed is elevated so he or she can sit up to eat. While in the upright position, the skin of the patient’s back might stick to the bed, but gravity is causing the tissues and bones under her skin to move down the bed.
Cleanliness: Cleanliness is also a key factor in the development of pressure sores. When a resident is forced to lie in his or her own waste for hours, the acidity of the urine tends to break down the skin. This breakdown can lead to the development of a bed sore or worsen an existing pressure sore. If a nursing home resident with one or more bed sores is forced to lie in their own urine or feces for hours on end, there is the added danger of infection. Once a bed sore becomes infected, the resident is in grave danger of developing a systemic infection throughout her body known as sepsis. Sepsis is very difficult to treat and often results in death.
Malnutrition: Dehydration and malnourishment weaken the body. When a person is dehydrated, their skin becomes less supple and more brittle. This weakened skin is more prone to bedsore development. A person who is malnourished has less fat and muscle, making it easier for bed sores to develop and to worsen at a faster rate.
Bed Sore Symptoms
The degree of skin and tissue damages range from red, unbroke skin to a deep injury involving muscle and bone. Additional warning signs include:
- Unusual changes in skin color or texture
- Pus-like draining
- An area of skin that feel cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
- Tender or sore areas
How Do I Know If My Loved One Has A Bedsore?
The first signs of pressure sores appear when the skin is still intact. Both family and professional caregivers should regularly inspect care recipients for the following signs of skin breakdown.
- Changes in skin color. Keep an eye out for blue or purple marks in individuals with darker skin and pink or red marks in those with lighter skin.
- Unusual fluctuations in temperature. Excess warmth indicates inflammation, while coolness indicates little or no blood flow to the area, both of which are bad signs.
- Changes in tissue consistency. Affected areas may feel exceptionally soft or boggy and different from similar tissue nearby.
- Unusual sensations. Numbness or tingling often occurs in at-risk areas.
The nursing home where your loved one lives should have fairly set protocols for dealing with pressure sores. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with procedures and, if possible, make sure they are being carried out. Some questions you may want to ask the caregivers ahead of time include:
- What are your pressure sore risk assessment protocols?
- What is the protocol once someone is identified to be at high risk?
- What team members are involved in caring for at-risk patients?
- What does an individualized treatment plan entail for patients who are at risk or
- What is the protocol for making sure treatment plans are being carried out and are effective?
Stages of Bed Sores & Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are classified according to stages and each stage of a bed sore represents a greater degree of tissue and skin damage than the stage before it. There are four stages of bed sores with state one being the least severe.
The first stage is the mildest. The upper layer of skin is discolored and typically appears reddish. In this stage, the wound has not yet opened, but the extent of the condition is deeper than just the top of the skin. The affected area may be sore to touch but has no surface breaks or tears. The patient may also experience mild burning or itching, or be sensitive to heat.
During the first stage, you may notice that the area is red, but the skin does not turn pale when pressed firmly. This means there is an interruption in blood flow.
Healing from this stage, if treated early, can take place in approximately three days.
When a pressure sore reaches the second stage, the top layer(epidermis) of the skin is broken, creating a shallow, open sore. In some cases, the second layer of skin (dermis) may also be broken. During Stage 2, the patient can experience pain from the ulcer and may or may not notice drainage from the site.
Healing from this stage can last anywhere from three days to three weeks.
A Stage 3 bedsore wound extends through the second layer of skin (dermis) and reaches into the fatty subcutaneous tissue. Bone, tendon, and muscle are not yet visible. Nonviable (dead) tissue may be present and can be black in color, or sometimes appears as hardened red or white tissue. Because of the very serious nature of a Stage 3 bedsore, a patient should seek immediate medical treatment, as the non-viable tissue must be removed from the sore for the healing process to begin.
Healing from this stage can last one to four months if treated properly.
Stage 4 ulcers are the most serious. These sores extend below the subcutaneous fat into your deep tissues like muscle, tendons, and ligaments. In more severe cases, they can extend as far down as the cartilage or bone. There is a high risk of infection at this stage. Tissue necrosis occurs, and damage extends from the bed sore to the muscle, bone, and supporting structures (such as tendon or joint capsule). When a bed sore reaches this stage, the result can be fatal.
If treated, recovery from a stage 4 bed sore can take anywhere from three months to two years to completely heal.
If your loved one is suffering from a bed sore, you have a right to seek justice. Compensation is not the ultimate goal in nursing home cases—holding nursing homes to high standards is The Carlson Law Firm’s goal. It is important to hold at-fault parties accountable for their negligence of elderly and other nursing home patients.
Is a Bed Sore Curable?
Bedsores are treatable and curable, but, if treatment comes too late, they are fatal. An open wound is unlikely to heal rapidly. Even when healing does take place, it may be inconsistent, because of the damage to skin and other tissues. Less severe pressure ulcers often heal within a few weeks with proper treatment, but serious wounds may need surgery.
How To Prevent Bed Sores and Pressure Ulcers
In cases where the patients are bedridden or where they spend most of the day in a wheelchair, it can be hard to prevent bedsores from appearing. It is important that required precautions are taken, and there are a number of things that caregivers are able to do to reduce the risk of development of these sores.
It is important to reposition the patient at least once every two hours. Patients who have severely limited mobility should be in a physical therapy program. This can help them to keep moving and to keep the blood flowing. It also helps to prevent the muscles from atrophying. If a patient is able to walk, they should be allowed to do so.
Avoid lying directly on the hipbones and support legs correctly with a foam pad or pillow (never a doughnut-shaped cushion or any type of rubber pad). Put the support under the legs from the middle of the calf to the ankle and keep knees and ankles from touching. It’s helpful to have a little tent over the toes and to use special heel pads. Beds that can raise and lower and those that can change the amount of pressure can be helpful as well. However, you have to be careful that the patient does not slide.
Inspection is crucial to detecting bedsores in the early stages of the formation when they are much easier to cure. While this requires caregivers to get up close and personal with patients, it’s a necessary process.
Are Nursing Homes Liable for Bed Sore Injuries?
Under federal and state laws governing the treatment of the elderly, nursing home and residential care facilities can be held civilly liable for pressure ulcers injuries resulting from neglect if residents.
Senior citizens and other individuals who are residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are significantly dependent on staff to fulfill their daily needs and care. As such, under federal and state laws residents must be treated with dignity and respect; nursing home operators are required to provide adequate staff so as to maintain a specific level of care needed by each resident. The adequate level of care includes caring for immobile residents who are at a high risk of developing bed sores.
Bed Sore Lawsuit Information
The Statute of Limitations:
The statute of limitations refers to the time period an injured victim of bed sores has to file a personal injury or elder abuse claim against an at fault (liable) defendant. The statute of limitations for pressure ulcers is dependent on two important factors: The cause of action or type of lawsuit being brought for in the court of law and the jurisdiction where the injury took place.
Common Causes of Action:
Common causes of actions against a nursing home or skilled nursing facility for bed sore injuries or death include:
- Intentional harms
- Failure to properly hire or train staff
- Wrongful death
- Breach of statutory or regulatory rights.
A lawsuit against a nursing home must prove three elements:
- That the nursing home was in a legal contract to provide care
- That the nursing home failed to uphold that duty of care
- That the facts stated in the lawsuit resulted from a lack of care
What To Expect When Filing A Bed Sore Lawsuit
Family members who decide to file a lawsuit against a nursing home should expect resistance from the nursing home and be prepared to take the case all the way to trial if necessary. A nursing home abuse lawsuit is a complex matter. Being represented by a lawyer experienced in these cases is highly recommended. It’s common for nursing home abuse cases to settle outside of the courtroom, but there are instances where some do make it to trial.
There are typically four phases in launching and proceeding with a nursing home abuse case. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will be entirely familiar with the process and it’s their job to guide you, the plaintiff throughout.
Phase 1: Investigation
The first phase is the investigation where all relevant facts are obtained and correlated. These may include witness observations and statements, photographic evidence, medical records, and expert witness opinions.
Phase 2: Discovery
This discovery phase is where evidence is placed before a judge to assist in gaining more facts. Here witnesses are deposed and cross-examined under oath. Discovery’s purpose is to streamline the legal process before putting the matter to a time-consuming and expensive trial.
Phase 3: Pre-Trial
The third phase is the pre-trial preparation where the evidence is looked at objectively and the lawyers devise their strategy for putting the case to trial. Often, information gained in the discovery phase needs follow-up investigation.
Phase 4: Trial
The fourth and final phase is the actual trial where witnesses testify before a judge and jury. A verdict is obtained which decides the degree and severity of the neglect. The case may be dismissed or upheld depending on the jury’s belief and awards of compensation and costs are determined.
At any time before the jury’s verdict, the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (negligent party) may choose to settle the case as they see fit.
How The Bed Sore Attorneys at The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
The Carlson Law Firm has a core value to protect the most vulnerable populations. Bedsores are a serious condition that can lead to lifelong pain and even death. In fact, bedsores are the underlying cause for the death of several thousand people in the country every year. Our firm employs attorneys 100 percent dedicated to fighting for the rights of nursing home patients. A Bedsore Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm will invest our time, legal expertise and resources to recover damages.
If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse and is suffering from bedsores, you should take action quickly and contact us. An expert Bedsore Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can help get your loved one the justice they deserve. You can call us anytime at 866-802-9571 to set up a free consultation. We are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.