Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bones caused by bacteria. The most common types of osteomyelitis causing bacteria in adults include S. Aureus, Enterobacter, and Streptococcus. In cases of severe pressure sores (also referred to as decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers, pressure wounds or bed sores) the bacteria enters the body through the open wound and attacks the bone. Once the bone becomes infected, enzymes are released that restrict the body's ability to heal. If left untreated, osteomyelitis can spread into the body's bone marrow and surrounding joints, leading to further medical complications or even death.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of nursing home abuse, medical malpractice and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases for our clients who were abused, mistreated or neglected by others including their caregivers. Our attorneys are available to answer any legal questions you have on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if your injuries were a result of someone else's negligence or intentional act. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
Nearly any type of open wound can cause osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, including pressure sores. The condition develops when the bones become inflamed due to a bacterial exposure. Most cases of osteomyelitis occur in nursing facilities by substandard care when the resident develops a Stage III or Stage IV severe decubitus ulcer, and the bacteria enters the body to attack the bone. Usually, the infection starts with staph bacteria like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Once the infection penetrates the bones and surrounding tissue, the body releases enzymes that restrict the healing process. Without effective, immediate treatment, the infection in the bone can spread to neighboring bone marrow and joints, and cause subsequent medical complications including sepsis (blood infection), amputation, and even death.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Osteomyelitis is an extremely rare condition that affects approximately two of every 10,000 individuals. However, certain risk factors can increase the potential risk of acquiring the infection including a weakened immune system and other medical conditions that include:
- Diabetes (most bone infection cases stem from a diabetic condition),
- Sickle-cell disease
- Intravenous (IV) drug use
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- AIDS or HIV
- Restricted blood supply
- Hemodialysis (kidney dialysis)
- Long-term steroid use
- Recent injuries
- Knee and hip replacements
- Bone surgery
Unacceptable Complication Associated with Substandard Care
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is prepared to prosecute matters involving osteomyelitis following the development of pressure sores occurring at home, nursing facilities, and hospitals. Given the pain and extensive medical treatment necessary to treat osteomyelitis, we are always mindful of our clients' future medical expenses and carefully evaluate these needs before entering into any settlements.
In situations where a patient will require medical care related to osteomyelitis or other wound complication, we frequently consult with a treating physician to can provide us with an estimate as to the cost of the medical procedures and rehabilitation to ensure that the patient's needs are met, and there are sufficient funds available to provide for these needs.
The rapid development of acute osteomyelitis can become life-threatening in as little as ten days. The common symptoms associated with chronic and acute osteomyelitis include:
- Restricted range of motion
- Swelling and tenderness in the affected bone
- Nausea-induced vomiting
- Chills and fever
Diagnosing osteomyelitis can be challenging. The doctor may order a series of test and imaging scans including:
- Blood Tests – The test might identify elevated white blood cell levels or other indicators that the body's fighting off an infection. However, the blood test cannot tell the doctor that you have developed osteomyelitis but can guide the doctor in determining what other tests might be required.
- Imaging Tests – The doctor may order an x-ray that will reveal bone damage. However, developing osteomyelitis might take a few weeks to become detectable on the x-ray film. The doctor might also want a CT (computerized tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan that will provide detailed images of the patient's bones and surrounding tissue.
- Bone Biopsy – The most accurate test for diagnosing osteomyelitis is a bone scan that can reveal the specific germ that is causing the infection. This information will provide an opportunity for quick treatment using the correct antibiotic that can stop the infection and preserve as much damage to bone as possible.
- Needle Aspiration – A needle's use during this test to remove a fluid and cell sample from a bony area or vertebral space that will be examined in a laboratory environment where the infectious agent can grow.
The doctor may recommend a specific treatment for your condition based on the severity of the bone infection and the available drugs that can kill off the harmful bacteria. Usually, patients will need to be hospitalized for many of the treatment options, which include:
- Surgical Procedures – The doctor may perform one or more surgical procedures to help minimize the severity of the bone infection that could include:
- Draining the Infected Tissue from the area that will require an opening through the skin where the surgeon can drain accumulated fluids or pus.
- Removing diseased tissue and bone through debridement, which is a surgical procedure for the removal of disease to the bone to allow healthy bone tissue to grow.
- Restoration of Blood Flow to the affected bone where the surgeon fills empty spaces created during the debridement procedure where the area is filled with other tissue, muscle, skin or bone pieces. These corrective procedures often include a tissue or bone graft at a later stage during the healing process.
- Removing Foreign Objects including surgical screws or plates used in earlier surgeries that are causing the infection.
- Amputating the Limb when no other options are left, and the infection continues to spread to other parts of the bone, surrounding tissue and other areas of the body.
Nearly all individuals who developed osteomyelitis acquire the infection due to substandard care in a nursing facility or hospital setting. Some infections of the bone are highly resistant to most treatment including strong antibiotics. For a good prognosis, the patient must receive quality care quickly before the infection worsens and requires surgical procedures or an amputation. Slow progressing osteomyelitis can create a squamous-cell form of skin cancer, although this condition is extremely rare.
Filing a Compensation Lawsuit
Most cases of osteomyelitis begin as a pressure sore that was caused by the nursing home's failure to provide adequate treatment. Usually, the resident is elderly and suffering from pre-existing conditions that increase the potential susceptibility to developing bedsores and other skin problems. However, the resident's pre-existing condition does not absolve the nursing staff for their failure to provide care, especially when a pressure wound appears.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), every bedsore is preventable if the doctors and nursing staff follow protocols and treat a developing sore before it advances to a life-threatening condition. Our legal team has successfully prosecuted many abuse and neglect cases occurring in nursing facilities.
Sometimes, we are contacted by the victim who wants better care immediately. Our team of attorneys will work on our client's behalf to have them transferred to a better facility or send in an experienced medical team to provide the proven bedsore treatment to begin the healing process. Other times, we are contacted by the victim's family after the resident died from bedsore-related injuries that progressed to a fatal infection and file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Building a Case for Monetary Recovery
Once your attorneys have reviewed your medical records and filed a case for compensation, they will begin working at building your case. The evidence and information will be presented to the insurance company during the negotiation settlement meeting or in front of the judge and jury at a lawsuit trial. The documentation may allege that the defendants were negligent in their actions by breaching the acceptable standard of care that led to the victim's bedsores and osteomyelitis infection.
The lawsuit may outline that certain staff members and the nursing facility failed to follow the victim's Care Plan and that there was not adequate supervision from the Director of Nursing or other supervisors. The evidence may reveal certain factors that prove the case including:
- The nursing staff failed to provide proper turning and repositioning of the victim's body that corresponds to the development of a bedsore.
- The Registered Nurse, Wound Nurse, or Licensed Practical Nurse failed to perform required weekly skin assessments that would have identified a bedsore in its initial stage.
- The staff failed to monitor the victim as required that would have identified their dehydration or diminishing fluid levels.
- The nursing home failed to perform Braden scale evaluations that could have predicted the victim's risk of developing a bedsore.
- The nursing home dietitian failed to perform a dietary assessment that would have identified the victim as being malnourished or provide guidelines on improving the resident's nutritional health.
- The staff failed to perform weekly treatment updates that would have revealed how effective or ineffective the current treatment plan was working.
- The nursing home failed to provide the victim a specialty mattress, cushions, and pillows that would have alleviated pressure on the bony prominences of the body where bedsores began to develop.
The plaintiff's attorney might be able to demonstrate the nursing home's breach of duty in providing the resident care by using the facility's medical records that might be incomplete. The nursing staff must record all interactions with the resident according to the nursing home regulations. Their duties include documenting the administration of medications including the drug name, dosage, and time it was administered and recording the time the resident's body was repositioned to alleviate pressure points that could lead to the development of a pressure wound.
The resident's medical records must show comprehensive skin assessments including their date and results so that the medical team can adjust their Care Plan if necessary. A failure to update the Care Plan or follow established protocols could be an indicator of medical malpractice or nursing home neglect that might help establish mistreatment or abuse.
What to Do
If you were injured or your loved one died because of Nursing Home abuse, mistreatment or neglect, you likely have the legal right to file a case for compensation. However, these types of cases are often complicated and difficult to prove. Because of that, victims and surviving family members will hire an attorney experienced in nursing home neglect cases to handle every aspect of their lawsuit. An attorney can ensure that the family receives adequate financial compensation to recover their damages.
Contact a Chicago Law Firm with Experienced Prosecuting Cases Involving Pressure Sores and Ensuing Complications Related to Osteomyelitis
The bed sore attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand your injuries were not your fault but the responsibility of negligent caregivers. We have successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and we can help your family too.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept All our nursing home negligence and medical negligence cases through contingency fee basis. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have successfully completed your case through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We probably offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf you owe us nothing. Let us begin prosecuting the defendants in your case today. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.