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Bedsore Lawyer

Elderly AbuseBedsores, which are also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, are the bane of elderly hospital patients and nursing home residents. Bedsores are skin wounds or lacerations that form following prolonged contact with a person’s skin and any bed sheets or other surfaces. These sores can develop after as little as twelve (12) hours of sustained contact. Certain medications, including some chemotherapies used in treating advanced cancers, will cause greater susceptibility to bedsores. More often than not however, bedsores are caused by medical neglect or inadequate care and treatment in a hospital or nursing facility. 

How Do Bedsores Develop in Those Cases Linked to Nursing Home or Other Hospital Patients?

Bedsores begin to form when blood circulation is impeded due to pressure on the victim’s skin. These medical injuries are most frequently seen in areas of thinner skin over a person’s joints or near protruding bone structures, in which pressure from internal bones cause pressure sores to develop in an immobile patient. Moreover, the skin of elderly individuals is exponentially more sensitive to the development of bedsores or pressure sores than other segments of the population.

Finally, elderly patients are more likely to have limited mobility, which creates pressure points regardless of the discomfort, and the nature of many infections found in elderly populations only further erodes the ability of an elderly patient to cope with a developing or developed bedsore.

Per the medical community, bedsores are sorted into one of four categories, reflecting the increasing severity and danger of an untreated bedsore, including:

  • Stage 1, characterized by itchy, red skin. The surface at this point may be either hard or soft, and may range in color from ashen to purplish. Treating stage 1 bedsores is relatively simple and usually requires little more than moving the person so that pressure is relieved from the affected skin area.
  • Stage 2, in which an open sore is visible on the skin. The affected skin may be blistered and surrounded by some discoloration.
  • Stage 3, evidenced by deep ulcers that extend into muscle tissue. At this point, bedsores are painful and difficult to treat and cure.
  • Stage 4, which can destroy muscle, bone and tendons. If left untreated, Stage 4 bedsores can lead to lethal infections.

Bedsores are easy to prevent with proper attention and care. If, for example, an elderly person or some other patient whose health may be compromised is left immobile for extended periods, he or she will begin to suffer bedsores. That person’s care attendants need only to move him or her periodically to relieve pressure on sensitive parts of that person’s skin. Special mattresses and extra support for immobile limbs can also help to prevent bedsores, and routine inspections on persons who are more susceptible to bedsores will allow any sores to be treated while they are still in Stages One (1) or Tow (3). Should a bedsore reach stage three (3) or four (4) in any nursing home patient, it is almost certain that some measure of neglect was ongoing during the time in which this elderly patient should have been receiving medical attention.

Nursing Home Facilities and Hospitals Legally Obligated to Address Bedsores in Patient Populations

 If bedsores do form, the accepted standard of care for treatment by hospitals, medical facilities, and nursing homes is to keep the wounds clean and properly dressed, with debridement of any dead tissue. Proper nutrition and hydration will also aid in healing bedsores. And yet, nursing and elder care facilities have the highest reported incidents of bedsores, with some research suggesting that almost one-in-four nursing home patients having suffered from some incidents of bedsores.

Since 2008, Federal Regulations have limited Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and care facilities for treatment of stage 3 and 4 bedsores that arose during a person’s stay at the hospital or facility.  With these limited reimbursements, Medicare is attempting to encourage caregivers to be more vigilant to prevent bedsores or to treat them quickly after they develop. Elder care negligence lawyers are also filing lawsuits to hold caregivers and their employers liable for bedsore injuries.

Nursing Homes, Hospitals, and In-Home Caregivers Owe the Elderly a Heightened Duty of Care

Elderly persons who reside in a nursing care or hospital facility are in a trust relationship with their caregivers, and by extension, owed a legal duty of care from these individuals. If not upheld or violated in some manner, such as allowing for the prolonged development of bedsores, patients may have options to obtain compensation for their losses through the courts system

Those caregivers owe a higher standard of care to residents because they receive compensation for their care and services.  During an investigation of the facts that will support a lawsuit, an elder care lawyer will first establish the applicable standard of care and determine whether the care facility breached that standard.

 

References:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2912087/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173972.php

http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/bedsores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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