Bedsores are injuries resulting from neglect that sometimes appear when nursing home patients are ignored. In a world where corporate profit leads over kindness and customer service by a country mile, we see this all too often. Nursing homes try to get the least expensive employees and drain the most work out of them over the least amount of time. The end result is, employees with a bad attitude and management focused on numbers rather than patient health.
This dynamic can lead to neglected patients who develop wounds and illnesses that are many times preventable. Many people are not aware that bedsores can be prevented and are oftentimes the result of neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, the elderly and other people less able to care for themselves fall victim to pressure ulcers, also called decubitus ulcers or bedsores. When a nursing home is understaffed and is unable or unwilling to take care of its residents appropriately, this can lead to neglect and injury to the nursing home residents.
What is a bedsore?
A bedsore is an area of skin that has become due to prolonged immobility or contact with moisture. They are called bedsores because they occur when someone has been left neglected in the bed for too long.
There are many different stages of bedsores, ranging from a Stage I to a Stage IV, depending on the severity of the bedsore. Under most circumstances, bedsores should not occur. Bedsores develop when a resident is left lying in the same position too long or left lying in a wet diaper too long. How can bedsores be prevented? When a resident is admitted to a nursing home they should be properly assessed by the nursing staff to determine if they are at risk for bedsores. A plan must be put in place to prevent the resident from developing skin breakdown.
Simple precautions can be used to prevent skin breakdown:
turning and repositioning
using pads and wedges
special mattresses that keep pressure off the problem areas
use of heel floats and other assistive devices
frequent monitoring for skin breakdown
keeping the residents free from moisture
changing wet diapers often if the resident is incontinent
If the nursing home is understaffed or the staff is undertrained, they may not be taking appropriate care of the residents, leading to skin breakdown.
Development of a bedsore most often leads to other complications, which is why prevention of the bedsore is important. Once a bedsore develops, it can be a lengthy painful process to heal, if it can be healed at all. Different ointments and dressings are typically used to aid in the healing process. Sometimes the wounds must be debrided surgically to remove any dead and infected tissue. If not treated appropriately, bedsores often lead to serious infection and even death.
Claims against the nursing home can be based not only on allowing the bedsores to develop, but also failing to appropriately treat the bedsores or obtain the necessary medical treatment. A case for wrongful death can be filed if the resident’s death is related to the development of a bedsore. If you know someone who has suffered from a bedsore at a nursing home, you should contact an experienced nursing home attorney to investigate a potential lawsuit against the nursing home.
What steps can you take? Make sure you read the admissions paperwork at the home carefully and request a written copy of the inspection and visiting times. Talk to your family member on visits and make your own examination of them. If a claim does arise, the arbitration clause will be a key area of inquiry so keep a copy of any documents they gave you upon intake.