Preventing Bed Sores in Nursing Home Residents
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, often form when a bedridden patient lies in the same position for an extended time. Since many nursing home patients are not mobile enough to turn themselves over, they require frequent assistance from nursing home staff. Consequently, the presence of bedsores can be (but isn’t necessarily) a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Stages of Bedsores
Bedsores typically form on bony areas of the body such as hips and ankles. The development of bedsores proceeds in four distinct stages, each one more severe than the last. Following are the visible manifestations of each of these four stages.
- Redness or discoloration of the skin without tearing (redness may not appear in darker-skinned people, but some form of discoloration should be visible).
- Breaking of the skin and ulceration. The ulcer might look like an abrasion or a blister.
- Expansion of the ulcer and cratering of the skin. Body fat may be visible in the crater.
- Muscle and/or bone tissue is exposed.
Bedsores can lead to numerous complications, some of them potentially quite serious, including:
- Cellulitis (a skin infection)
- Sepsis, a body-wide blood infection
- Septic arthritis
- Skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)
- Endocarditis, an infection of the heart lining
- Meningitis, a very serious infection of brain and spinal fluids
If the presence of bedsores leads you to suspect that your loved one has been subject to nursing home neglect or abuse, you may need outside help. Consider the following steps:
- Speak with a supervisor at the nursing home about your concerns. The supervisor might not be aware of the behavior of subordinates.
- Seek a second opinion from a doctor not associated with the nursing home.
- Contact an adult protective services (APS) agency in your state. The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) can locate a local agency with administrative authority. APS can investigate your case, meet with your loved one, and take remedial action (including transferring your loved one out of the nursing home if necessary).
- In extreme cases, you might file a criminal complaint with the local prosecutor. It will be the prosecutor’s decision whether or not to prosecute.
- File a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and/or its staff for nursing home abuse.
Filing a Negligence Lawsuit
To win a negligence lawsuit against a nursing home, you must prove (under a “more likely than not” standard) that:
- The nursing home’s owner or employees failed to meet the nursing home’s duty of care towards your loved one. A nursing home’s duty of care towards a patient is very high, and negligence can be established by showing inadequate patient care, negligent hiring of staff, or negligent maintenance of equipment.
- The nursing home’s failure to meet its duty of care actually caused your loved one’s bedsores.
If your loved one died from the abuse, you may be able to win a wrongful death lawsuit. If the conduct of the nursing home or its staff was intentional (whether or not death was the result), you might even be able to win punitive damages in addition to the normal compensatory damages.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from bedsores due to culpable conduct on the part of the nursing home, consider seeking the services of a nursing home negligence attorney in your home jurisdiction.
Here are a few nursing home negligence lawyers to consider:
- In Chicago, Illinois - Attorney Mark Karno represents nursing home negligence victims and their families - www.karnolaw.com/Chicago-Nursing-Home-Attorneys. Here is Mark Karno's attorney profile.
- In Orlando, Florida, Attorney Nathan Carter represents victims of nursing home negligence in Florida - www.thefloridafirm.com/nursing_home_negligence.html. Here is Nathan Carter's profile on personalinjury.com.
- In Louisville, Kentucky, Attorney Karl Truman represents victims of nursing home abuse and neglect throughout Kentucky - www.trumanlaw.com/nursing-home-abuse. Here is the Truman Law Office profile.