Chicago Nursing Home Bedsore Lawyer
Bedsores, also called pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers, are a graphic sign of neglect at nursing facilities, hospitals, and other long-term care facilities. The Chicago nursing home injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have successfully resolved bedsore cases in all care settings in Cook County and other jurisdictions in Illinois.
Our experience litigating and resolving Chicago bedsore lawsuits has given our legal team a unique perspective to evaluate your specific situation. If your family member developed bedsore during an admission to a medical facility, we invite you to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer regarding your rights for pursuing legal action.
As with all our nursing home abuse and medical malpractice cases, we offer a free initial consultation.
The Origins of Pressure Sores in Physically Disabled Patients
Bedsores can develop on the body's bony part that experiences unrelieved pressure over a significant period. When blood flow is restricted in that area, the tissue dies, and a wound develops.
The areas of the body that bedsores are most commonly found include the legs, hips, ankles, heels, buttocks, and back.
Nursing facilities must implement preventative techniques to prevent bedsore. These techniques might include regular off-loading that relieves pressure, integration of pressure-relieving mattresses, and keeping patients clean and dry to prevent bedsores from developing.
Poor hygiene, malnourishment, and dehydration can also lead to skin deterioration and bedsores. Caregivers must monitor patients with limited mobility to ensure the residents avoid bedsores development.
Legal Responsibility of Nursing Homes to Prevent Pressure Sores
The nursing home staff has a legal obligation to prevent bedsores. Federal law (42 CFR § 483.25(c)(1) and (2) (1998))requires nursing facilities to implement protocols to prevent bedsores unless they are clinically unavoidable. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act further assures nursing facility patients that staff will provide proper care and bedsore prevention.
Clinical guidelines give specific recommendations on treatment and care once patients display pressure wounds while living in long-term care facilities. These guidelines include but are not limited to:
- Tissue management
- Disease control
- Ulcer care
Assessment is critical to forming an effective plan of care. The assessment should initially determine the size, location, and severity of the wounds. Once pressure injuries have been identified, the clinician should follow with a holistic assessment taking note of the patient's complete medical history, diet, and other conditions.
Medical Complications Related to Bedsores
Assisted living facility patients could be at risk of severe medical complications that cause pain, disability, or death when a pressure sore develops and degrades to an open wound.
- Sepsis (septicemia) is a life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial infection in the bloodstream that frequently enters the body through open wounds or pressure ulcers. Doctors characterize sepsis as a severe infection that is spread throughout the body. The condition can trigger an inflammation response that might damage most body systems or shut them down completely
- 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 severe bedsores (decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers, pressure wounds) cases, the bacteria enter the body through the open wound and attacks the bone. Enzymes then release in the infected area, restricting 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 death.
- Gangrene is a life-threatening complication that kills the tissue around the wound and restricts blood flow. Bacteria can begin to grow immediately in the affected area if the tissue is void of oxygen and nutrients. The gangrene tissue deteriorates and develops foul odors and a green or black discoloration. In some injury cases, there is no effective antibiotic to stop the progression of the condition, which may result in surgical debridement or the amputation of the limb.
- Necrotizing Fasciitis is commonly referred to as the 'flesh-eating virus.' The infectious condition does not actually "eat" the flesh but causes the surrounding tissue to die. A failure to treat necrotizing fasciitis often results in death
- Limb Amputation may be necessary when a pressure sore progresses to a later stage wound. Amputation of the feet and legs may be necessary when a pressure sore has become infected, and the tissue has died.
- Death. Patients can die from bedsores and their related complications. When a pressure sore results in the patient's death, surviving family members may be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the skilled nursing facility, hospital, or medical facility where the wound developed.
Staff must treat bedsores when detected to prevent the pressure sore from worsening. If staff allow the wound to progress from the early stages through nursing home neglect, the pressure wound can be much more difficult to heal as the wound deepens, compromising the patient's well-being.
A Sign of Neglect
The development of a pressure wound could be the site of neglect by the nursing staff. Bedsores develop when pressure is applied against the skin when lying in bed, seated in a chair, or putting one leg over the other for an extended time with limited mobility. Minimal movement restricts blood flow and can cause significant damage to vulnerable skin and its underlying tissue.
Pressure Sore Injury FAQ
Why do Bed Sores Develop?
Bedsores develop when pressure is put on the skin for long periods. They cut off blood flow in the underlying area and cause other problems. Many risk factors may contribute to bedsores, including reduced mobility, diseases, and other conditions. Here is a set of common causes.
- Pressure. Prolonged force on the body will lessen blood flow. Blood flow is critical to bring oxygen, nutrients, and other things to underlying tissue and vital organs. If they do not get these, the damage will occur, and they might even die.
Nursing home patients that are physically disabled are at risk when they are confined to a hospital bed or wheelchair. Their feet, arms, and other body parts sustain pressure throughout the whole day.
Confinement can trigger bedsores when that force breaks the skin and then the underlying area, including muscles, tissues, and organs.
- Shearing. Shearing results when two things move in opposite directions. That force creates stress on the body.
Shear forces can lead to bedsores because the skin cannot endure that trauma for a long time. If a person is in bed or on a chair all day, they might slip down, and that can cause shearing. Yet, it may come about in different ways altogether.
It is essential to check for this issue as it can cause severe damage, including bedsores.
- Friction. Friction occurs when objects rub up against skin like a medical device, linens, clothing, another body part, or something else. It breaks down the skin and bedsore emerges. Certain factors make friction even more seriously, including moisture. It is vital to make sure that people with limited mobility are secured in their position to reduce friction or shearing risks.
Are Bedsores Always Preventable?
According to state and federal law, nursing homes and other facilities must take a variety of steps to stop patients from getting bedsores. These rules mostly outline how bedsores are to be spotted and treated.
However, there is a whole list of duties that relate to the prevention of bedsores too. Typically, hospitals and long-term care facilities are the ones governed, but others might have specific responsibilities as well.
The following details precisely what the staff must do.
- If patients do not yet have bedsores, then the facility must provide a) a holistic assessment and b) a prevention plan that manages tissues and other body parts for the prevention of pressure ulcers unless it is completely unavoidable due to their health.
Preventing pressure wounds require constant attention and communication between the facility doctor and patient. Ensuring that patients receive proper nutrition also helps with bedsore prevention.
- If patients do have bedsores, then the facility must a) avoid positioning the patient to put weight on the sore, b) create a repositioning schedule to avoid making the sores worse or creating new sores, and c) use pressure-reducing techniques like water, foam, or alternating air.
What are the Stages of Bed Sores?
Bedsores are 'graded' or 'staged' so staff in a nursing home or hospital can track a wound and implement proper medical care. The bedsore staging system is standardized using objective information to provide a standardized level of care.
Stage I - Initially, a pressure sore appears as a persistent area of red skin that may itch or hurt and feel warm and spongy or firm to the touch. In blacks, Hispanics, and other people with darker skin, the mark may appear to have a blue or purple cast or look flaky or ashen. Stage I wounds are superficial and go away shortly after the pressure is relieved.
Stage II - At this point, some skin loss has already occurred — either in the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, in the dermis, the skin's deeper layer, or in both. The wound is now an open sore that looks like a blister or an abrasion, and the surrounding tissues may show red or purple discoloration. If treated promptly, stage II sores usually heal fairly quickly. Caregivers should ensure that the patient's body is adjusted at least every 1.5 hours while idle in a wheelchair or nursing home bed.
Stage III - By the time a pressure ulcer reaches this stage, it has extended through all the skin layers down to the muscle, damaging or destroying the affected tissue and creating a deep, crater-like wound.
Stage IV - In the most severe and advanced stage, a large-scale loss of skin occurs, along with damage to muscle, bone, and even supporting structures such as tendons and joints. Stage IV wounds are challenging to heal and can lead to lethal infections commonly identified as sepsis, even with aggressive medical attention. Stage IV pressure sores may develop in many areas, particularly in patients with physical disabilities. These areas include:
- Tailbone, hips, or buttocks
- Shoulder blades and spine
- Back of the head or ears
Occasionally, a pressure sore may be categorized as 'unstageable.' Unstageable pressure sores are usually referred to as a degraded wound involving skin, muscle, or bone covered with dead tissue that is impossible to evaluate.
How do You Win a Bed Sore Case Against a Medical Facility?
Winning a Chicago bed sore case against a long-term care facility requires skill and experience. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant's wrongful conduct caused or worsened the wound through negligence or a willful act.
Negligence cases argue that the defendant acted unreasonably and damaged the plaintiff. The victim's lawyer must show that the other party breached a duty owed to them and that breach created harm.
Some acts that might qualify as negligence in a pressure sore case and allow you to sue a medical facility for their negligence might include:
- The facility did not conduct an initial assessment for bedsores.
- The facility did not devise a plan to detect, prevent, and treat wounds.
- The hospital did not follow the patient's plan of care.
- The patient developed bedsores while at the facility or existing sores worsened.
- The facility did not follow the doctor's instructions or failed to coordinate with the proper medical personnel.
- The nursing home did not frequently rotate the plaintiff or provide proper care to prevent sores from emerging.
There are other examples of negligence that might cause bed sores. Yet, those listed above are the most common forms that lead to lawsuits.
How Much is an Illinois Bed Sore Lawsuit Worth?
An Illinois bedsore lawsuit might be worth more than a million dollars. They average as much as several hundreds of thousands of dollars in many states. The focus when estimating them should be the injuries suffered and related trial strategy. Plaintiffs can only receive compensation for what you prove to a jury you suffered. The law lets them receive damages for that and nothing more.
Examples of Successful Bedsore Settlements and Lawsuits
$500,000 Pressure Sore Injuries; New Jersey
The nursing home transferred an elderly person to a hospital after living at that facility for about one month. Hospital doctors reported he arrived with Stage II bedsores that became worse as the condition infected his bones.
He succumbed from bedsore-related sepsis (blood infection). Attorney for his estate filed a civil lawsuit against the hospital and nursing facility.
The lawsuit claimed negligence at both facilities contributed to his death. Both defendants denied all charges; yet, they decided to settle with the plaintiff for $500.000.
$29,100,000 Bedsore Injuries; California
A nursing home resident in her late seventies battling Alzheimer's disease, a debilitating form of dementia, fell at the facility where she was living, she fell. The facility staff did not discover this for over a week.
The home's medical team transferred her to a hospital where doctors diagnosed bed sores. Despite the hospital's treatment and surgery, the victim died from an infected pressure sore. Her estate sued the facility and obtained a substantial verdict.
$575,000 Pressure Sore Injuries; Illinois
An elderly woman suffered a stroke and was moved to a facility. Her doctors assessed her condition and noted she was at risk for bed sores.
The staff diagnosed developing pressure wounds but took no action. As a result, the woman sustained infections, dehydration, and other injuries before passing away. The estate sued the facility for these events and received a $575,000 settlement.
$2,000,000 Bedsore Injuries; Pennsylvania
In this tragic story, a nursing home resident died from bedsores, infection, and malnutrition. The woman's estate sued the negligent parties at the nursing facility that were in charge of providing her care.
The lawsuit alleged that the facility failed to implement proper precautions and did not hire sufficient employees to prevent bedsores. A jury awarded the plaintiffs a $2,000,000 award.
Hiring a Chicago Nursing Home Bed Sore Lawyer
Most pressure sore lawsuits filed against medical facilities claim that nursing staff did not do an adequate job caring for the patient. The home's failures might involve abuse, neglect, understaffing, and inadequate training of staff.
Most nursing home abuse attorneys build cases that the staff deliberately harmed or negligently injured the family's loved one without regard to the patient's right to dignity and respect.
Our nursing home negligence attorneys have experience litigating and settling cases involving the development of pressure sores in all care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals in Illinois and throughout the United States.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can evaluate your pressure sore case and discuss your legal rights. Contact our law offices now through the contact form or phone call at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation with our elder abuse injury lawyers.
Our law firm is currently representing clients across Illinois in areas such as: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Aurora, Naperville, Orland Park, and Schaumburg. All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.