Is a Bedsore Always a Sign of Abuse and Neglect?

Abuse and Neglect, Bedsores

A bedsore is an ulcer forming on the skin due to pressure from sitting in a chair or laying in a bed too long, often in one position. Bedsores can occur for various reasons but often are the result of negligence. In many situations, bedsores can actively indicate that a person is not receiving proper care, especially if they have limited mobility or cannot move freely. In a nursing home or hospital, this may warrant speaking to a nursing home neglect attorney to determine the legal grounds to seek compensation for these losses.

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What Causes Bedsores?

What Causes BedsoresA bedsore is a type of wound that develops over time due to prolonged pressure on the skin. Most common in people who are bound in a wheelchair or bed, these wounds are painful and can be life-threatening. The Cleveland Clinic shares that two and a half million people develop bedsores yearly, and anyone can get them. Some of the most common causes include the following:

  • A lack of blood flow to the area of the skin facing increased pressure occurs.
  • The lack of blood flow allows a pressure wound to develop (this can begin to happen in as little as two hours)
  • The cells in the upper layers of the skin begin to break down, dying due to the pressure.
  • The wound forms.
  • Wounds can be painful and are at a high risk for infection.
  • Moisture from urine, sweat, and stool can worsen the risk of developing complications, indicating a lack of proper hygiene.
  • Traction, which occurs when a person is pulled up or down a bed, can also increase the risk of bedsores and complications to them.

A person is at an increased risk of developing bedsores if they:

  • Have paralysis and no mobility on their own.
  • Are you in a coma or vegetative state?
  • Wear a cast, splint, or other covering on their skin or a prosthetic device.
  • Use wheelchairs most of the time.
  • Are bedbound.

Considering these factors, it is possible to better understand why bedsores occur. It also may provide some insight into how they happen in negligence situations.

Bedsores in Nursing Homes

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention shares that 35 percent of all nursing home residents have a stage two or higher pressure ulcer. The higher the stage, the more severe the bedsore is. Though bedsores are common in nursing homes, that does not mean they have to occur or are unpreventable.

To determine if negligence occurred, considering what led to the development of the condition is critical. This is not always simple because most bedsores develop and worsen over time. It may be difficult to recognize when negligence is the direct cause.

Why do bedsores happen in nursing homes?

Bedsores often occur in nursing homes because a person is in bed or a wheelchair all of the time. When a person is not mobile, nursing staff must take steps to alleviate bedsores, such as using an air cushion to constantly change the pressure on the various body areas. Turning patients and helping them move from bed to a wheelchair or chair can also be helpful.

Bedsores may be negligent if:

  • A person did not receive the support they needed to move
  • There was no oversight and monitoring for the development of bedsores in an immobile person
  • A person cannot reposition themselves, but there was a lack of staffing to help them move
  • Bedsores did not receive proper care and treatment initially
  • Bedsores developed due to poor sanitary conditions

Nursing home staff fully understand the risk of bedsores. Since this is a common problem that impacts many people within each location, it should be a constant area of concern for staff. That often means routine supervision and adjustments to limit the risk.

Did staffing do enough to reduce the risk of bedsores?

There are some big questions that you must answer to know if bedsores are the result of negligence in a nursing home (or in a hospital if a patient is present for a long time). That includes:

  • Did the staff consistently check a person’s skin to notice anIs a Bedsore Always a Sign of Abuse and Neglecty changes so they receive proper care?
  • Should the staff have known that a person had a propensity to develop bedsores and did not take aggressive measures to prevent them?
  • Implement preventative measures actively to avoid the occurrence of bedsores.
  • What preventative steps could have been taken (and will be expected)?
  • Did the person receive proper treatment at the first sign of the condition?

Bedsores are disabling and painful. They often lead to further worsening of health and may speed up decline. They can cause death, too.

The nursing home says nothing could be done.

Though complex, treatment for bedsores is possible, and limitations may exist in some situations. If a nursing home tells you that there is nothing they can do to prevent or treat the bedsore, they are not being truthful. It is possible to treat and care for wounds properly. If they say they can do nothing or did everything they can, they may be trying to avoid liability.

If this occurs, turn to a nursing home abuse attorney for immediate support. Do not allow your family member to suffer in a situation like this. Seek out more advanced care or, if they do not do anything, ask that they transfer a family member to a local hospital for care.

What It Takes to Prove Negligence in a Nursing Home Case

Nursing homes are legally obligated to provide residents with a safe place to live. This includes ensuring they receive the care they need. Residents have a nursing home Bill of Rights as well. To determine if negligence occurred, consider the four key principles behind negligence itself:

  • The nursing home must maintain the person’s safety and care.
  • The nursing home failed to provide the required and expected level of care.
  • The nursing home’s failure to provide that type of expected care led to the development of a person’s bedsores.
  • The bedsores caused pain and needed medical treatment.

If all four of these areas apply, you have a negligence case. Allow a nursing home abuse attorney to guide you as you navigate what occurs in these situations and what your rights are beyond simply filing a claim.

Is Every Case of Bedsores Neglect?

Though neglect is common, recognizing other reasons bedsores can develop is important. For example, some people may have very poor nutrition, leading to skin failure. Others may suffer dehydration or other medical conditions that increase the risk of developing skin abrasions like this.

If these conditions are due to negligence, the bedsore is still the nursing home’s fault. For example, if a person is dehydrated or not receiving adequate nutrition due to a lack of supply, that is negligence.

If your family member has bedsores, consult a nursing home negligence lawyer. They will work to determine what occurred and who is responsible.

How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help

Your nursing home abuse lawyer will provide hands-on support to you to determine if you have a neglect case or not. You do not have to know the answer to this. If you suspect abuse occurred, take action by calling an attorney.

Gathering information about the bedsore

The first step your attorney will complete is understanding the bedsore, including where it is and the stage. The staging of a bedsore is critical as it can show the level of damage and the seriousness of the incident. MedlinePlus describes the four stages of bedsores as the following:

  • Stage One: The skin is red but not white when pressed. The skin may be firm or soft and hot to the touch or cool. The area is painful. This may indicate a bedsore is forming.
  • Stage Two: A blister forms on the skin, or an open sore exists. The area around it may be red and irritated.
  • Stage Three: The skin has an open, sunken hole called a crater. There is obvious damage to the skin tissue. Body fat may be visible.
  • Stage Four: The most serious form, the ulcer is so deep that muscle and bone damage has occurred. Damage can also occur on tendons and joints. Wounds tend to be large, deep, and at a high infection risk.

If you learn of a bedsore at any stage beyond stage 1, that indicates that either the nursing home did not have that knowledge (and was failing to do skin checks) or that they failed to report it to you.

What care did the person receive for the bedsore?

The next important step for your attorney is determining what happened once the nursing home, hospital, or other care provider learned of the bedsore. Care generally involves:

  • Proper cleaning and the application of a moisture barrier in stage one.
  • In stage two, treatment typically requires the removal of loose and dead tissue and a higher level of cleaning, often using antiseptics.
  • Apply special dressings actively to minimize infection risk and create proper conditions to encourage healing.

A person with a stage three or four bedsore requires medical care beyond that of a nurse. This typically means ensuring that the area receives proper treatment and oversight. Treatment may include debridement, cleaning, bandaging, and surgical treatment. Medications, including antibiotics, may also be necessary to treat the injury.

Gathering evidence of what occurred

Collecting EvidencesYour nursing home abuse lawyer will gather all evidence available to determine if negligence occurred. Some of the most common details your attorney will try to gather include:

  • Medical records for your family member indicating what occurred, when the staff discovered the before, and the care provided
  • Witness statements about the care provided, such as if a person was left to sit or not move for long periods
  • Medical professional opinions

Determining if negligence occurred

Your attorney will use the information available to decide whether you can prove negligence. Some indications of when that may be:

  • Improper assessment of the condition is evidence.
  • A person did not receive the proper personal hygiene needed.
  • The nursing home staff did not provide proper support to minimize bedsore risks, such as using air mattresses, moving a patient, or proper cleanliness.
  • Poor nutrition or hydration increases the risk of bedsores developing.
  • The staff did not perform skin checks.
  • The staff did not provide proper treatment to a bedridden patient.

Once it is clear that negligence occurred, seeking compensation for the losses is not only possible but crucial. Allow your nursing home negligence attorney to actively work hard to seek fair and full compensation in a case like this. Their experience in navigating the legal complexities of nursing home negligence ensures that you have a dedicated advocate fighting for your rights and pursuing the compensation you deserve for the harm caused by the negligent actions or inactions of the nursing home.

What Compensation the Nursing Home May Owe a Bedsore Patient

Whether in a nursing home, hospital, or another healthcare facility, improper care that leads to the development of bedsores results in negligence. This means the facility is responsible for those losses. Compensation from them may include:

  • Medical expenses, including any medical care needed due to the development of bedsores
  • Pain and suffering claim
  • Emotional distress claims
  • Injury complication care costs
  • Diminished quality of life

In some cases, bedsores can lead to infections, poor nutrition, and sepsis, potentially resulting in death. If your family member tragically died as a result of a bedsore complication, you have the right to seek out compensation for wrongful death as well. This legal avenue allows you to hold responsible parties accountable for the negligence that led to the fatal consequences of untreated bedsores.

Hire a Skilled Bedsore Negligence Attorney for Immediate Help

Investigate any situations in which bedsores are due to negligence actively. Working with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney is critical. It allows you to gather all available evidence and determine who was at fault. Since these conditions create so much pain and suffering, it can be critical to seek out support for your family member.