Bedsore Lawsuit Caused by Negligence at Nursing Homes
A bedsore lawsuit is the most common type of nursing home negligence. If you or someone you know is bedridden, immobile, or unconscious, you likely know of the dangers of bedsores. Also known as pressure sores, these painful spots develop in stages and can get increasingly worse without treatment. This guide on bedsores will help you spot, treat, and prevent them so you don’t have to file a bedsore lawsuit against a nursing home or hospital.
Why are Bedsore Lawsuits so Common?
Bedsores are ulcers that occur when areas of the skin are under continuous pressure. They most often occur on bedridden or wheelchair-bound people, but they can also happen as the result of wearing a cast. In any case, the weight of the body against the surface of a bed, chair, or cast, cuts off blood supply to the area. Bedsores turn red and then purple as the skin dies. Untreated bedsores can break open and become infected.
Also referred to as pressure injuries, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers, bedsores are a serious issue. If caught early, they can be treated quickly and heal within a few days fairly painlessly. However, they can become much more dangerous if left alone. People with circulation issues, poor nutrition, and diabetes are at a higher risk of getting bedsores. They’re most common on the back of the head, shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, backs and sides of the knees, and heels of the feet.
Bedsores can be a sign of the quality of care that a bedridden or immobile person is receiving. Proper care includes being turned and positioned, as well as being provided with good skincare and nutrition. If someone develops bedsores, it’s likely that they aren’t receiving the care they need.
Bedsores develop in stages, from least severe to most severe. The sooner you find the bedsore and treat it, the easier and less painful it is to treat.
In the first stage, the area feels warm to the touch. For people with lighter skin, the area will appear red. For people with darker skin, the area can look purple or blue. The person may notice that the area hurts, itches, or burns. The spot may also feel different to the touch than the surrounding area – for example, it might feel firmer or softer than the undamaged skin.
At stage 1, a bedsore can go away in just 2 or 3 days if treated properly. It’s important to change the person’s position and continue moving every 2 hours if in bed or every 15 minutes if in a wheelchair. The sore should be washed with mild soap and water. If the sore doesn’t go away within a few days, you should contact a doctor.
In this stage, the area looks more damaged and is warm, swollen, or discolored. It might have an open scrape, sore, or blister and could be oozing clear fluid or pus. The person with the sore will experience significant pain.
A stage 2 bedsore can heal in as little as 3 days, up to 3 weeks. Remove the pressure by changing the position. Clean the wound with water or a water and salt solution. It’s also important to keep the sore covered with a moist gauze or see-through dressing. If you see any signs of infection, like pus, redness, or fever, you should call your doctor.
Stage 3 bedsores have a crater-like appearance, as the damage moves below the skin and into the fat tissue below. It may also have a bad odor and show signs of infection, like heat, red edges, and drainage. The tissue in or around the sore may be black, which means that it’s dead.
At this stage, a bedsore will take 1 to 4 months to heal. You should contact a doctor immediately. They may prescribe antibiotics and remove any dead tissue.
In the final stage, a large, deep wound is present and the entire area is damaged. The skin has turned black, there are signs of infection, and you may see tendons, muscles, joints, or bones.
A stage 4 bedsore takes at least 3 months to heal but may need years for a full recovery. You should contact your doctor immediately, as they will need to treat the wound and potentially do surgery.
Apart from the four stages, there are other classifications for bedsores. Bedsores that you cannot determine the depth of because you don’t see the bottom are unstageable bedsores. In these cases, a doctor would need to clean the sore and determine its stage. The wound will likely be covered in tan, grey, brown, yellow, or green “slough” or tan, brown, or black “eschar.” A suspected deep tissue injury, or SDTI, occurs when the skin’s surface looks like it’s in stage 1 or 2, but beneath is really stage 3 or 4.
Preventing a Bedsore Lawsuit
The best way to avoid bedsores is to reposition the person who is immobile or bedridden. If they’re in a bed, they should be turned and repositioned every 2 hours. If they’re in a sitting position in an upright wheelchair, they’ll need to change positions every 15 minutes. Additionally, wheelchairs and beds should have soft padding to help reduce pressure points. It’s also helpful to inspect the skin each day for any signs of bedsores, especially in bony areas. This will ensure that if there are bedsores, you can catch them in the most treatable and painless stage.
You can also help prevent bedsores by keeping the skin clean and dry. This helps because friction – like you might experience with moist skin – can also encourage rubbing against clothing or bedding, which can increase the risk of bedsores. This is especially concerning for people who have incontinence, as skin becomes more vulnerable when continuously exposed to urine and stool.
Finally, good nutrition is key to preventing and healing bedsores. The body needs adequate calories, fluids, protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain healthy skin. If someone has a bedsore and poor nutrition, their body won’t be able to heal the area even if it is otherwise cared for.
If you or someone you care for has bedsores, you should contact an attorney and consider filing a bedsore lawsuit.