Nursing Home Abuse and Bed Sores

Bed sores are serious medical conditions and one of the most important measures of whether nursing home abuse or negligence has occurred. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“DHS”), bed sores, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, are caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. Most often, they occur in areas where bone and skin are in close contact, such as your elbow, hip, shoulder, back, or back of the head. These sores not only cause discomfort, but can lead to infections like meningitis, cellulitis and endocarditis. As personal injury attorneys, our firm has seen the immense physical toll bed sores can have on individuals.

Interestingly, bed sores are not only the result of elderly abuse at nursing homes. In fact, they occur more often to nursing home residents aged 64 years and under. Bed sores are most dangerous to any nursing home resident who has to remain sedentary for long periods of time. People in wheelchairs, or stuck in bed are examples of people most susceptible.

How to Protect Your Loved One from Bed Sores Caused by Nursing Home Abuse

Often, it is the family of a resident that can be his or her best protection from nursing home abuse. When your loved one is immobile, it is important that the nursing home staff act reasonably to prevent bed sores. There are many things the nursing home staff should do to prevent bed sores.

  1. Change the resident’s positions frequently. Staff should make sure to change the positions of a bedridden resident at least every two hours.
  2. Make sure the resident is in a position that does not put pressure directly on an existing bed sore. Staff can avoid nursing home abuse by making sure the head of the bed is raised no more than 30 degrees.
  3. Keep the skin clean and dry. Staff must be attentive to the condition of the resident’s skin. Skin that is clean and dry is less likely to develop bed sores.
  4. Exercise every day. Staff should make sure your loved one is getting the proper amount of exercise. Movement increases blood flow throughout the body and contributes to a better mood.

Ultimately, staff should be trained on what constitutes nursing home abuse and what the proper steps are to care for its vulnerable residents. If your loved one develops a bed sore, the severity can range depending on the stage of the sore. The DHS breaks down bed sores into five different stages.

The Four Stages of Bed Sores

Stage 1: A persistent area of skin redness (without a break in the skin) that does not disappear when pressure is relieved.

Stage 2: A partial thickness is lost and may appear as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater

Stage 3: A full thickness of skin is lost, exposing the subcutaneous tissues-presents as a deep crater with or without undermining adjacent tissue.

Stage 4: A full thickness of skin and subcutaneous tissues are lost, exposing muscle or bone.

Often, the stage of the bed sore can be indicative of the level of nursing home abuse that your loved one was subject to. Additionally, often what was a stage 1 bed sore worsens and worsens due to continued negligence and nursing home abuse from the staff. A stage 1 bed sore may be able to be treated by antibiotics and cleaning solutions, as well as re-positioning and supportive pillows and mattresses. For advanced stages, victims may need surgery to remove the damaged tissues.

What Can You do If You Think Your Loved One is the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse?

Like any personal injury case, you would have to prove that the nursing home was negligent in the care of your loved one and that was the cause of the bed sores. This often requires medical experts and experienced nursing home experts to review all of the available evidence. A skilled and experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will engage with the best experts for your particular case to be sure it is presented to give you the best chance possible at a favorable settlement or verdict. However, it is important that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible if you believe your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse before the injury worsens and potential evidence disappears.

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