Pressure sores, also called bedsores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers, are a graphic sign of systematic poor care at medical facilities and other long-term care institutions. The development of pressure sores is becoming an epidemic among patients in Chicago nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. In fact, studies suggest that patients in medical facilities today are more likely to develop pressure sores than they were just ten years ago!
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has a long history of holding nursing homes and hospitals across Illinois accountable when a patient develops a pressure sore at their facility. If your loved one has acquired a bedsore while admitted to a medical facility in Chicago, we invite you to talk to a lawyer at our firm for a free case review. You can rest assured that our Chicago bedsore lawyers will fight hard to ensure that your loved one receives the maximum compensation Illinois law affords.
The Origins of Pressure Sores
Bedsores can develop on a bony part of the body that experiences unrelieved pressure over a significant period of time. When blood flow is restricted in that area, tissue dies, and a wound develops. Bedsores are most commonly found on the legs, heels, buttocks, and back. Poor hygiene, poor nutrition, and dehydration can also lead to skin deterioration and bedsores. It’s essential that patients with limited mobility are well attended to so they can avoid the development of bedsores.
Complications Related to Pressure Sores
When unrelieved pressure combines with other conditions, such as incontinence and malnourishment, the patient’s risk for developing pressure sores is exponentially increased. In addition to the pain and disability that accompanies the actual pressure sore, there is a substantial increase in the patient’s likelihood of developing these serious medical complications.
It is important that pressure sores are treated as soon as they are detected to prevent them from worsening. If allowed to progress from the early stages, pressure sores can be much more difficult to heal as they go deeper into the patient’s tissue. Of course, the best-case scenario is not to let pressure sores form in the first place.
Why do Bed Sores Develop?
Bed sores develop when pressure is put on the skin for long periods of time. They cut off blood flow in the underlying area and cause other problems. There are many factors that may contribute to bed sores 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 in order to bring oxygen, nutrients, and other things to tissues and vital organs. If they do not get these, damage will occur, and they might even die. People that do not move around a lot suffer constant pressure. Their feet, arms, and other body parts sustain pressure throughout the whole day. This can trigger bed sores when that force breaks the skin and then the underlying area including muscles, tissues, and organs.
- Shearing. Shearing is when two things move in opposite directions. That force creates stress on the body. This can lead to bed sores 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 all together. It is important to check for this issue as it can cause serious damage including bed sores.
- Friction. Friction occurs when things rub up against people. This can be from a medical device, linens, clothes, or something else. It breaks down the skin and a bed sore emerge. Certain factors make friction even more seriously including moisture. It is important to make sure that people with limited mobility are secured in their position to reduce friction or shearing risks.
How Common are Decubitus Ulcers in the Nursing Home Population?
Each year, millions of Americans discover that they have decubitus ulcers (also called bed sores). They are quite common among nursing home residents too. Between ten and twenty percent of all nursing home residents suffer from some sort of bed sore. That equates to hundreds of thousands of people and billions in medical care and costs. This means that many, many people will file a lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.
- Over 2 million Americans have bed sores.
- It is estimated that 100,000 nursing home residents have bed sores.
- Bed sores cost more than $100,000 to treat.
- More than 50,000 people die each year because of bed sores.
- Every year, thousands of people file lawsuits to recover compensation for bed sore injuries.
What Should Facilities do to Prevent Pressure Sores?
According to state and federal law, nursing homes and other facilities must take a variety of steps in order to stop patients from getting bed sores. These rules mostly outline how bed sores are to be spotted and treated. However, there are a whole list of duties that relate to the prevention of bed sores too. Normally, hospitals and nursing homes are the ones governed but others might have certain responsibilities as well. Here is exactly what they must do.
- If patients do not yet have bed sores, then the facility must provide a) a holistic assessment and b) prevention plan that c) manages tissues and other body parts for the prevention of pressure ulcers unless it is completely unavoidable due to their health. This will require constant attention and communication between the facility doctor and patient.
- If patients do have bed sores, 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.
How do you win a Bed Sore Lawsuit?
In order to win a bed sore lawsuit, you must show that the a) defendant’s wrongful conduct b) caused or worsened your bed sores and that c) they had no excuse for such acts. Normally, this will take the form a negligence lawsuit. Negligence cases argue that the defendant acted unreasonably and damaged the plaintiff. You must show that the other party (often, it is a nursing home or hospital) breached a duty owed to you and that breach created harm. With bed sore cases, here are some acts that might qualify as negligence and allow you to sue a medical facility for their negligence.
- The nursing home did not conduct an initial assessment for bed sores.
- The facility did not devise a plan to detect, prevent, and treat sores.
- The hospital did not follow its own plan of care.
- The patient developed bed sores while at the place or the sores got worse.
- The nursing home did not follow the doctor’s instructions or failed to coordinate with the proper medical personnel.
- The facility did not properly or frequently rotate the plaintiff in order to prevent sores from emerging.
There are other examples of negligence that might cause bed sores. Yet, these are some of the most common forms that lead to lawsuits.
How Much is a Bed Sore Lawsuit Worth?
A bed sore 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.
What are Some Examples of Successful Bedsore Lawsuits?
$500,000 Pressure Sore Injuries; New Jersey
In this lawsuit, an elderly man was transferred to a hospital after staying in a nursing home. He lived in that facility for about one month. He had bed sores in Stage II when he arrived at the hospital. While there, his bed sores progressed. They began to seep down into his bones. He died not long thereafter of sepsis. His estate sued the hospital and nursing home. It claimed various statutory and negligence in the lawsuits. Both defendants denied all of these charges; yet, they decided to settle.
$29,100,000 Bedsore Injuries; California
The plaintiff in this case was in her late seventies. She was battling Alzheimer's. At the nursing home where she was living, she fell. The facility staff did not discover this for over a week. She was soon moved to a hospital. Once there, her doctors found bed sores. Despite surgery, she died not long after from an infected bed sore. Her estate sued the nursing home. It obtained a sizeable verdict.
$575,000 Pressure Sore Injuries; Illinois
The victim in this dispute was an elderly woman. She suffered a stroke and was moved to a nursing home. Her doctors noted a risk for bed sores after her transfer. In fact, some sores had already developed. Yet, the nursing home staff took no action. As a result, the woman sustained infections, dehydration, and other injuries prior to passing away. The estate sued the nursing home for these events and received a settlement.
$2,000,000 Bedsore Injuries; Pennsylvania
In this tragic story, bed sores were the perpetrator of a woman's death in addition to related complications like infection and malnutrition. After the lady passed away, her estate sued the nursing home where she was living prior to her death. The estate charged the facility with many allegations including a failure to implement proper precautions and a failure to hire enough employees to prevent bed sores. A jury awarded the plaintiffs with a large award.
Attorneys Committed to Holding Negligent Nursing Homes & Hospitals Accountable for Poor Care
The overwhelming majority of pressure sore lawsuits against medical facilities derive from the fact that the facility was simply not doing an adequate job caring for the patient. While the underlying reasons may be complex, understaffing and inadequate training of staff are recurring themes in pressure sore lawsuits.
Each lawyer from our firm has experience litigating and settling cases involving the development of pressure sores in all types of facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals, both within Illinois and throughout other jurisdictions across the country. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can evaluate your pressure sore case and advise you of your legal rights, with an emphasis on timely and effective resolution of your case.
Over the years, the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have settled or brought to trial hundreds of cases on behalf of individuals and families involving bedsores. Our experience litigating and resolving Chicago bedsore lawsuits has given us a unique perspective to evaluate your specific situation. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact our team now so we can help you. Depending on the circumstances of where the bedsore formed, there are rules that require you to initiate a case within a specific time. Call us now to ensure that your rights are not compromised.