When Can a Nursing Home Be Sued for Bedsores?


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An increasing trend in personal injury cases involves claims that are brought forward related to a loved one acquiring bedsores. The formation of these bedsores may provide a basis in a lawsuit.

What Are Bedsores?

Bedsores are skin lesions that arise when the body has sustained prolonged pressure to it in one area. Bedsores cause damage to the skin and underlying tissue because of the continuous pressure. They are also referred to as pressure ulcers. These sores may not take too long to develop, especially in older individuals who have mobility issues and are primarily confined to a bed. There are different grades of bedsores, ranging from Grade 1 that is characterized by a discoloration of the skin to Grade IV that can result in the death or damage to the skin, tissue, joint, tendon or bone.

Complications of Bedsores

Bedsores can be difficult to treat and may lead to serious complications. The skin over heels, elbows and the back of the head is particularly at risk. Tissue that does not receive an adequate blood flow can die. Bedsores that are left untreated can lead to additional medical conditions, such as bacteria entering the bloodstream, inflammation of tissue, infections to the bone and joint, abscess or cancer.

Preventing Bedsores

To avoid these complications and damage to the body, it is important that nursing homes and caretakers take precautions. One effective way to prevent these sores is by regularly repositioning the patient. Special devices can be used to help support the patient and avoid bedsores. A person who spends most of his or her time in bed is usually advised to change positions after every two hours. Patients may need assistance in repositioning.

Additionally, good hygiene and skin care can assist. Skin care includes checking the skin on a daily basis for signs of discoloration and using moisturizing products to prevent dryness. Patients who are able may be able to prevent bedsores by remaining active.

Personal Injury Claims

Many personal injury claims involving bedsores are lodged against nursing homes. Patients in nursing homes or hospitals should not develop bedsores. Patients should receive quality care that prevents them from developing this condition, including being occasionally turned, repositioned and cared for in a way that prevents the development of this condition. If a patient is not properly cared for, he or she may develop bedsores that can cause serious injuries or infection. In rare cases, death may occur. Patients or their loved ones may be able to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit when bedsore damage occurs.

Medical Malpractice

One type of legal claim that may arise is medical malpractice. Doctors are required to provide a certain standard of care. This is based on federal and state regulations of nursing homes. Additionally, doctors must provide the same standard of care that a reasonably competent doctor would provide under similar circumstances. If these standards are not followed, such as by not turning an immobile patient frequently or not providing proper hygiene to the patient, medical malpractice may be alleged. Other instances of medical malpractice may arise when a doctor fails to diagnose bedsores, fails to admit a patient for bedsores or fails to provide treatment for the condition.

Neglect

Another common legal claim related to bedsores is that of neglect. Residents in nursing homes may not be properly cared for. Some issues that may result in a bedsore negligence filing include not receiving the proper type or dosage of medication, lack of supervision, inadequate wound care or not reporting bedsores in a timely manner to minimize the harm. If the patient was ultimately admitted to a hospital for bedsores or otherwise, there may be a claim for hospital negligence if the patient did not receive the appropriate standard of care and was harmed as a result. Potential examples of negligence include failing to turn and re-position the patient periodically, failing to diagnose bedsores in a timely manner, failing to prevent exacerbation of bedsores that result in infection or amputation, failing to order consultations or failing to perform a medical procedure properly.

Wrongful Death

If a patient’s bedsores are left untreated and ultimately dies as a result, his or her family may bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit attempts to provide compensation to family members who have lost a loved one due to the wrongful acts of another. A personal injury lawyer can explain what type of legal claim may be available based on the particular circumstances of the case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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