Nursing Home Bed Sore: Legal Rights & Compensation
Millions of people develop bed ulcers yearly, also known as bed sores or pressure sores. These injuries can range in severity from patches of discolored skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle.
A pressure sore is an injury that causes skin breakdown, lack of blood flow, and underlying tissue death. They are caused when an area of skin is placed under pressure. Pressure sores can be the result of nursing home abuse.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC Advocates Against Nursing Home Abuse
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys understand that the most vulnerable of patients are the ones who develop bed sores. It is why we fight to help get compensation for our clients and their families for nursing home abuse cases.
Contact our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Nursing Home Untreated Pressure Injuries Are Deadly
Bed sores are serious injuries that can cause long-term damage and even death. If left untreated, bed sores can quickly worsen and become infected. It can lead to hospitalization to fight infection, life-threatening injuries, long-term disability, or even death.
Early intervention and treatment of pressure wounds are crucial to prevent a pressure sore and further tissue damage.
Bed Sore Statistics Among Illinois Nursing Home Residents
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pressure sores and decubitus ulcers are among the most common reasons nursing home residents are hospitalized and often lead to permanent disability, life-threatening injuries, and even death.
Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health reveals that between 2011 and 2012, more than 41 percent of all the most severe bed ulcers among Illinois nursing home patients were due to negligence resulting from nursing home abuse.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid report that nursing home residents who develop bedsores or pressure wounds have declined to 1.4 percent between 2010 and 2011, but that still represents more than 42,000 Illinois nursing home patients suffering from bed ulcers.
When a nursing home resident sustains a bed sore or pressure ulcer, they will likely incur more than just medical expenses. Therefore, healthcare professionals must use the clinical practice guideline for wound healing and protocols that prevent bedsores.
However, if nursing home neglect causes developing bedsores, the professionals have failed to provide the proper wound care. The family may also be entitled to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit on behalf of their loved one. Contact our law firm for a free consultation regarding elderly patients' nursing home abuse and neglect.
Causes Of Bed sores
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors who have trouble moving around risk developing bed ulcers because they remain in the same position and cannot relieve pressure points.
National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading causes of bedsores include:
- The constant pressure to a bony prominence
- Prolonged pressure on healthy skin and underlying tissue
- Friction between the affected areas of the body and a hard surface
- Moisture on the skin, such as from incontinence, sweat, or urine
- Lack of blood supply to the site can lead to dead tissue
- Decreased sensory perception of the affected areas of the body, which can happen as people age or experience a decline in their health
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid report that pressure ulcers usually start with small sores and progress to deeper injuries without care and treatment resulting from nursing home neglect. The CDC also indicates that bedsores are more prevalent among the following people:
- Those with limited mobility
- Seniors without the proper nutrition, poor nutrition, or anemia
- People living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
The National Institutes of Health stresses that proper care of bed sores is crucial to preventing life-threatening complications and infection. Bed sores can lead to severe joint infections, sepsis, osteomyelitis, and death without appropriate treatment.
Symptoms of Pressure Sores and Bed sores
A pressure injury or bed sore is not always easy to spot, particularly if they start as minor wounds. The following symptoms indicate that the person is likely suffering from a pressure ulcer or bed sore:
- Unusual discharges
- Darkened areas on the skin
- Areas of increased warmth
- Changes in the texture of the skin's surface
- Unexplained pain in affected areas
- A deep wound
- Indicators that there is diminished blood flow to the injured areas, such as swelling or coldness in the affected regions
Nursing home residents who begin to display these symptoms should immediately be taken to a doctor. The sooner pressure ulcers are diagnosed, the sooner steps can be taken to treat them. Nursing home staff neglecting to address a resident's bed ulcers can be held liable for nursing home abuse.
Bed sore lawyers from our law firm, who specialize in personal injury law, can assist you regarding the Illinois abuse and neglect of loved ones. Call us for a free consultation for all abuse and neglect cases in nursing homes.
Common Locations of Pressure Ulcers
While pressure ulcers can develop anywhere on the body, they are most likely to appear where a person has been immobile for an extended period. The following locations are commonly affected by pressure sores:
- Ischial tuberosities (sitz bones)
- Coccyx (tailbone)
- Shoulder blades, mainly if the person is confined to a wheelchair or bed for an extended period.
Pressure ulcers can affect an elderly person who has been paralyzed or has other sensory impairments. Elderly patients may be unable to let their nursing home caretakers know when a pressure ulcer develops.
Still, it is essential for those who provide care to keep a watchful eye for any skin changes and numbness, or other types of skin damage that may indicate the presence of pressure ulcers. Stage one and two-bed ulcers are not always preventable, but stage 3 and four pressure ulcers are avoidable injuries.
These sores typically take three and four weeks to heal if they are addressed early enough. When they become infected, the sores heal more slowly or not at all. Generally speaking, recovery time usually depends on how deep and severe the pressure ulcer could progress.
Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Treatment
According to the NIH, an ounce of pressure ulcer prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is vital for nursing home residents to receive the proper care and support from their nursing home staff in preventing pressure ulcers, including:
- Providing proper nutrition, making sure it includes essential nutrients to support the immune system to aid the healing process and fight life-threatening infection
- Frequent repositioning to relieve pressure for patients unable to move can be vital in preventing pressure ulcers and providing a constant flow of blood.
- Make sure that the person's bedding does not cause excessive pressure on any area or allow moisture to accumulate.
- Using moisture barriers to guard against incontinence
- Inspecting skin for any redness or sores
- Keeping the skin clean and re-dressing sores properly to prevent bacterial infection
Nursing Home Pressure Ulcers Medical Malpractice Cases
If you believe that a loved one has sustained a pressure ulcer or bed sore due to neglect on the part of the staff of nursing homes, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim on their behalf.
Through negotiations, the legal team from our law firm can ensure that the nursing home abuse and neglect victim will receive funds to cover:
- Hospitalization costs to treat infections
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and therapy bills
- Temporary or permanent disabilities
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
The cost of treating pressure sores can be high, often in the thousands of dollars, if a nursing home resident sustains pressure ulcers because of negligence or failure to meet the care standards of their staff.
In that case, family members may be able to file a lawsuit on behalf of their loved one for compensation. Visit our website today to learn more about filing nursing home abuse lawsuits.
Proper Lifting Techniques
Nursing home residents with spine injuries are often restricted to wheelchairs, so they must rely on staff members to move them around the facility. According to The Spinal Cord Society, the aides or orderlies of nursing homes need to provide patients with proper lifting techniques to prevent bed sores and muscle strain, leading to pressure ulcers.
According to the Loma Linda University Health System (LLUHS), caregivers at nursing homes should use their legs rather than their backs when lifting patients by ensuring that both of their feet are shoulder-width apart, aligned with the hips and knees. In addition, the person's head should be facing forward while their arms are at their sides.
Pressure Ulcer Prognosis
The prognosis for pressure ulcers depends on the patient's overall health and how long the sores have existed. According to Medline Plus, early bed sores may only require minor treatment steps, such as changing the person's position and regularly applying medicated bandages.
However, untreated pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers may lead to additional medical conditions such as:
- Sepsis (blood poisoning) due to infected tissue
- Pneumonia from the air that enters through an open wound into the lungs
- Cellulitis (an infection of the skin and the surrounding tissue damage, including tissue death)
- Kidney failure is a result of the accumulation of toxins in body tissues
- Blood clots can cause stroke or heart attack
- Dead tissue and gangrene (death of nerves and surrounding cells)
Death from long-term, potentially fatal complications is rare. However, it's important to note that pressure ulcers affect people with weakened immune systems and other health issues, complicating the wound healing process.
Proving A Sore Pressure Claim
Under Illinois law, bed sores, or pressure sores, are considered a type of personal injury. To be entitled to compensation under the law, you must prove that your pressure sore was caused by medical negligence by a nursing home caregiver.
That negligence was either directly caused by the pressure sore or left untreated and allowed to develop while knowing about its presence and preventing it from growing.
To prove medical negligence, you must demonstrate that a caregiver breached their duty of care owed to you by failing to provide the level of care they should have under similar circumstances, leading to nursing home abuse.
In other words, the cause of a bed sore may be medical malpractice if it occurred due to negligent actions taken by healthcare professionals.
Hiring Chicago Bed Sore Lawyers
Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers from our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your lawyer will remain private through an attorney-client relationship.
We accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only receive a payment if we recover compensation on your behalf. Our law office is paid after winning your case.
Our Chicago bed sore lawyers specialize in personal injury law. They can also serve medical malpractice or nursing home abuse and neglect clients in Lake County, Dupage County, Kane County, and Cook County.