Bedsores disproportionately affect older patient populations, especially those exhibiting some degree of immobility or other disability that impedes regular movement. In these cases, the patient sustains a pressure sore from their body weight, typically on a pressure point of contact. Though ranging in severity along a spectrum identified by practitioners as stages one through stage four, any bedsore present on an elderly patient or resident in a nursing home warrants immediate medical attention and future ongoing monitoring.
Problematically, while bedsores need a relatively long period of immobility to develop, the reality is that bedsore can develop as quickly as within two (2) hours, in a finding that has alarmed medical practitioners and nursing home operators across the country. With the requisite standard of care in the care of the elderly must now include the possibility of risks of bed or pressure sores within two hours, near immediate treatment would be required in cases of emerging or suspected pressure sores in patients. Specifically, multiple medical researcher universities have noted that elderly patients, especially those in nursing home facilities, are the quintessential at-risk cohort for complications due to bedsores.
The most recent statistical data presented by a reputable source held that no less than eight (8%) percent of all nursing home patients had experienced a pressure sore at one time, with certain estimates holding home care situations can result in patient populations presenting numbers as high as twenty-eight (28%) percent of patients suffering from some stage of pressure sore.
Moreover, acute care and even longer-term rehabilitation facilities struggle with similar risks for bedsores in at-risk patient populations, however, nursing homes by far record more bedsore cases in patients or residents than other entities, such as acute care hospitals or managed mid-term care facilities. In brief, no less than 150,000 patients or residents in the United States will experience some stage of a pressure sore in a given year.
To researchers, however, the question is not how common, but rather, just how costly are pressure ulcer and bedsore complications in the aggregate?
Given that a pressure sore is medically indicative of a prolonged period of immobility, alongside a continued failure of attending caregivers to inspect for pressure sores, ample grounds for filing legal claims emerges in most pressure sore cases that require hospitalization and other forms medical intervention. Due to the highly negligent course of events usually leading to the development of pressure sores or decubitus ulcers has reliably resulted in favorable claims to patients in the legal system, with long-term nursing home care type patients, who win around ninety (90%) of cases against their respective defendants, while also finding settlement or verdict amounts that on average stood at $13 million dollars, with one bedsore injury plaintiff’s case resulting in over a $300 million dollar verdict for the plaintiff. Almost certainly, this jury award was predicated on the highly negligent and widespread breaches of the duty of owed to a given resident, ultimately causing the resident to develop a life-threatening open wound, decubitus ulcer.
While seemingly innocuous upon verbal description, the reality is that the rapid decaying of the skin, muscle, and tendon tissues at the site of a stage four bedsore is frequently fatal more often than not. In fact, about four (4%) percent of all hospital admissions for bedsores culminated in the patient succumbing to complications from the pressure ulcer, with the survival rates for patients presenting with a pressure ulcer and another condition increasing the death rates of this patient population to nearly thirteen (13%) percent of patient admissions.
In this sense, while apparently innocuous, a stage one ulcer or bedsore is merely indicative of a brief period of possible time for intervention to reverse the damages sustained during a period of high or total immobility. Moreover, refusal of medical treatment during the early stages of a bedsore can ultimately return as relevant in any proposed claims files for bedsores or other ulcers against nursing homes, which will rely upon doctrines of contributory negligence to vitiate a patient’s claim. Having legal counsel in these situations will certainly prove beneficial.