Are Bed Sores a Sign of Nursing Home Negligence?
The existence of bed sores on the bodies of nursing home residents is generally accepted as an indication of the staff and/or facility’s negligence.
Bed Sores Are a Common and Serious Medical Condition
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pressure sores among nursing home residents represent “one of the important measures of the quality of clinical care in nursing homes.” CDC’s data brief on this medical problem further states that up to nearly 30 percent of nursing home residents suffer from bedsores.
The CDC concluded that “pressure ulcers are serious and common medical conditions in U.S. nursing homes and [they] remain an important health problem.” The figures from the agency’s report demonstrate the disturbing scale of the bedsore problem within these types of facilities throughout the United States.
How Bed Sores Happen
Bedsores develop when pressure from a person’s own weight is applied to a specific part or parts of their body for long periods of time, resulting in tissue damage. The condition commonly develops when nursing home residents who lack the ability to move or reposition themselves lie in bed for too long without moving.
Nursing home staff are well aware of the propensity for an incapacitated resident to develop bedsores, which is why they assume a duty of care to take the simple preventative measures of regularly repositioning at-risk residents.
Treating Bed Sores
Another duty of care that befalls nursing home facilities and their staff is to treat bedsores when they develop. These medical problems can generate severe complications and/or become infected, if they are left untreated.
Mayo Clinic advises that the first step to take in the treatment of bedsores is repositioning the patient’s body. The required frequency of repositioning depends on the resident’s/patient’s condition and the quality of the surface on which they are lying or sitting.
Bedsores may also be treated by:
- Support surfaces (special cushions or mattresses designed to protect vulnerable skin)
- Regular exercise
- Healthy nutrition
- Cleaning the affected skin
- Removing damaged tissue
- Applying a bandage to the wound
- Negative pressure therapy
- Surgery in severe cases
Although nursing home staff should be diligent in preventing pressure ulcers from occurring, they should also be treating the wounds once they develop.
How Staff Negligence Contributes to the Bed Sore Problem
By regularly monitoring the condition and position of the resident, bedsores can be prevented and treated. Bedsores often occur when nursing home staff fail to maintain an appropriate standard of resident care. This reality makes bedsores a common indication of nursing facility negligence. This form of negligence is particularly clear when nursing facility staff had reason to be aware or they were actually aware of a resident’s propensity to develop bedsores, and they failed to provide the preventive or treatment measures required.
This is why we recommend investigating further into the nursing home’s care for you or your loved one when bedsores happen. This is particularly important when a nursing home representative tells you that there was nothing that could be done to prevent or treat the wounds, as this may be an attempt to avoid a lawsuit.
Liable Parties in a Nursing Home Negligence Legal Action
If the bedsores can be linked to negligence, you may be able to recover compensation from:
- The nursing facility
- The nursing home employees individually
- Healthcare providers who treated the resident under the supervision of the nursing home
It is one thing to identify an at-fault party, but establishing their liability requires more evidence. A lawyer can help you gather the information you will need to build a strong case.
Applying the “Duty of Care” Principle to Establish Negligence
To prove that the nursing facility was negligent when providing care, four elements will have to be proven:
- The nursing home was legally obligated to maintain your or your loved one’s personal safety.
- The nursing home failed to maintain the requisite standard of care.
- The nursing home’s failure was the foreseeable and actual cause of your or your loved one’s bedsores.
- You or your loved one developed bed sores that required medical treatment.
A nursing home negligence lawyer knows how and where to find the evidence to support all of the above arguments.
Recoverable Damages in a Nursing Home Negligence Case
If your action against the nursing facility is successful, you could recover compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical treatment costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
This list of recoverable damages is not exhaustive. Your lawyer can build a case to recover many types of losses and non-economic damages, depending on your circumstances.
Information That Could Support Your Case
In the event that you or your loved one develops bedsores, you should consider taking pictures that clearly depict the severity of the wounds. Discuss the wounds with facility staff and note all details and responses. Ask the staff if treatment has begun and what specifically has been done to treat the wounds, as well as when those actions were taken. Obtain copies of all medical records relevant to the wounds and to your or your loved one’s entire stay in the nursing facility in which the wounds were discovered.
When You Discover Bed Sores, Call Friedman & Simon, L.L.P.
The attorneys at Friedman & Simon, L.L.P. know what it takes to hold nursing homes accountable for negligently injuring their residents. If you suspect you or a loved one developed bed sores while living in a nursing home, we would like to help you. Please contact our office at (516) 932-0400 for a free consultation.