Bedsore Attorneys – Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Our nursing home bedsore attorneys fight for the rights of nursing home victims who are neglected by nursing staff. Bedsores, which are more formally referred to as pressure ulcers, are frequently associated as a sign of neglect for patients living in nursing homes or personal care homes. These facilities are required by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to meet the needs of their residents through clinical care. Unfortunately, when care such as repositioning residents with mobility deficits is not provided, pressure ulcers can develop within a short period of time. These pressure ulcers can often be challenging to heal, leave the resident susceptible to infection, cause pain and discomfort, and even in some cases lead to death of the patient.
What is a Pressure Ulcer?
Pressure ulcers are wounds on the skin and underlying tissue, such as muscles, that results from a prolonged period of pressure on the skin. These ulcers often develop on areas of the skin that cover bony prominences, such as the sacrum, heels, spine, and ankles. Pressure ulcers are often classified into stages, which demonstrate the severity of the ulcer. With Stage 1 ulcers, the skin remains intact, but there are signs of pressure, such as reddened skin that doesn’t turn white when touched. Stage II ulcers occur when the skin (demis) opens, or an intact or ruptured blister occurs. Stage III pressure ulcers are more severe, indicating full thickness loss of the dermis and also the subcutaneous tissue beneath it. The most severe stage of pressure ulcers is a Stage IV ulcer, which can extend into the muscle, tendon or even the bone.
Why are Nursing Home Residents at Risk for Pressure Ulcers?
It’s well known that certain patients are at higher risk to develop bedsores. For example, patients with mobility deficits, such as elderly patients who cannot reposition themselves in a bed or a chair, are at great risk for pressure injury. A second risk factor for pressure ulcers is neuropathy, or the inability to feel pain. Patients with neuropathy are unable to feel the discomfort of extended pressure making them prone to bedsores. Even though a nursing home resident may not feel the pain caused by a bedsore, they are put at great risk of developing disease and requiring amputation.
Another risk factor for pressure injury is for patients dealing with pain. A resident who is in pain may resist moving because of discomfort. Alternatively, patients taking pain medications may be sedated to the point where they don’t enough to relieve pressure. Finally, nursing home residents coping with incontinence are at risk for pressure injury. Incontinence can cause skin damage and make it difficult to notice the early signs of pressure injury. Residents who wear briefs for incontinence can even develop pressure areas caused by the use of incontinence products, especially if they are improperly sized for the nursing home resident.
Can Bedsores be Prevented?
Once developed, pressure ulcers can be notoriously difficult to heal. That’s why it’s important the medical professionals charged with care of at-risk patients take all necessary steps to prevent pressure ulcers from occurring. The first step in pressure ulcer prevention is to conduct a thorough risk assessment for skin breakdown. Many nursing homes use the Braden Scale to determine a patient’s level of risk. Once a patient is identified as being at risk for a pressure ulcer, immediate action must be taken to minimize that risk. For example, the patient may require specialized support surfaces, such as a low air loss mattress or pressure reducing cushion in their chair or wheelchair. Because these types of specialized medical equipment can be costly, some nursing homes fail to implement these preventive measures.
An individualized turning and repositioning schedule based on the resident’s needs is paramount. Many facilities will quote a standard “every 2 hours” for repositioning. However, nursing staff often neglect to consistently maintain this repositioning schedule. Even if a 2-hour repositioning is completed, it might not be adequate to prevent pressure injury with patients at high risk who for pressure injury.
Finally, the facility should be monitoring the resident’s skin on an ongoing basis in order to notice and address small changes in skin integrity. When this monitoring is missed, a developing pressure injury can become severe in a short period of time.
Pressure ulcers place a nursing home resident’s health at significant risk. Infection at the wound site can extend healing time and require the use of antibiotics. Left untreated an infected pressure ulcer can lead to osteomyelitis (a bone infection) or sepsis, a life threatening response to an infection. Patients with pressure ulcers can experience serious pain and suffering, greatly diminishing their quality of life.
Consult a Nursing Home Bedsore Lawyer Today
If you believe a loved one was the victim of neglect, it is important to consult an attorney with significant experience litigating nursing home claims. Nursing home cases require specialized knowledge in medical malpractice and nursing home regulations and requirements. Our nursing home lawyers have experience prosecuting claims on behalf of victims and their families. To speak with a Pennsylvania nursing home attorney, call us today or submit a description of your case through our online contact form.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.