If you’ve discovered that your loved one in a nursing home has bed sores, it’s vital to address it right away. Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are not only painful, they can lead to fatal infections as well. What’s more, they are entirely preventable. When a facility’s resident has bed sores, it’s a sign that the resident has been receiving substandard care. As their loved one, you may be able to hold the facility accountable.
In Southern California, get legal help from an attorney at Barrios & Machado. Our firm is experienced in advocating for individuals and families who deserve compensation after the negligence of others. We’re ready to assert your loved one’s rights, even when facing large nursing homes and their lawyers. Contact Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696.
What are Bedsores? Definition, Causes, and Potential Dangers
Medically called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, bed sores are injuries to the skin caused by prolonged pressure on it. These can range from sore, tender spots, to open wounds that extend down the muscle underneath.
Nursing home residents who are immobile are particularly prone to bedsores, because long hours of sitting or lying down in one position puts much pressure on the skin. Typically, the injury occurs on the bony areas of the body such as the tailbone, hips, ankles, and heels.
Bedsores develop in these stages:
- Stage 1 bedsore – The skin isn’t broken but is red, sore, tender, and sometimes bruised. The person may feel slight pain when the sore is touched.
- Stage 2 bedsore – The affected spot may have broken or worn-away skin, looking like a scrape or a blister. At this point, the wound is only on the skin’s surface.
- Stage 3 bedsore – The wound is now a crater that reaches the tissue beneath the skin. This raw tissue can be extremely painful to touch. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to close up a stage 3 bedsore.
- Stage 4 bedsore – At this most severe stage, the ulcer has reached deeper into muscle and sometimes can expose the bone. Muscle damage is often irreversible, and the risk of infection is extremely high.
Infections are a serious danger from untreated bed sores. Examples of bedsore complications are:
- Cellulitis – Skin infection that affects surrounding tissues. It can damage nerves, so the patient may not feel pain at the affected area.
- Bone and/or joint infections – A bone infection called osteomyelitis causes bone pain, swelling, and fever. A joint infection called septic arthritis causes extreme pain at the joint, limiting its movement.
- Cancer – A non-healing wound can become cancerous, turning into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
- Sepsis – This disorder happens when the body’s infection-fighting response functions abnormally and turns on its own organs. In severe cases, this can cause a fatal “septic shock.”
The advancement of a bed sore can happen over hours or days, but it can be stopped if treated at its early stages. Moreover, bedsores are easily preventable through basic practices like regularly shifting the person’s position. Unfortunately, many residents at long-term care facilities do not get this kind of care, leading to their bedsores progressing into painful, costly, and sometimes life-threatening injuries.
Responsibility of Nursing Homes Against Bed Sores
At nursing homes and long-term care facilities, there are standard practices that are meant to prevent bedsores on sedentary residents or residents who have mobility problems. These practices include:
- Repositioning the resident every two hours or so
- Encouraging the resident to lie down at a 30-degree angle to reduce pressure on susceptible body parts
- Providing cushions or foam padding to resident’s bed, chair, or wheelchair
- Providing proper nutrition and hydration, which keep the resident’s skin healthy and less prone to damage
- Ensuring that the resident has clean, dry clothing and bedding
- Regularly checking up on the resident and promptly addressing any sign of bedsores.
Sadly, numerous nursing home residents in California have suffered varying degrees of skin ulcers due to the poor treatment at their facilities. Sometimes, it’s the staff’s failure to check on them regularly. Other times, it’s the poor nutrition and hygiene that the residents receive from the facility. There have also been many cases where existing bedsores were left untreated.
When a resident suffers a serious bedsore injury due to the healthcare facility’s negligent care, the facility may be liable to pay the costs. The resident or their legal representative may pursue a claim with the help of an attorney.
What to Do If Your Loved One Has Bed Sores
The moment you notice signs of bedsores on your loved one, take these steps to address it and to build a potential case:
- Seek medical treatment. For mild bedsores, the staff may be able to clean the affected skin, apply the appropriate ointment, and dress it. But if the bedsore is now a severe wound with damaged tissue around it, a doctor is necessary for debridement and possibly surgery.
- Take photographs or videos. While waiting for medical help, document the condition of your loved one, showing their injury and their environment.
- Compile documents. Start gathering your loved one’s medical records, weight logs, and other relevant documents.
- Avoid confrontation. While your loved one’s injury may disturb you, remain calm when communicating with nursing home staff. You can politely talk with them to get their perspective on your loved one’s situation.
- Consult a lawyer. Whether or not you’ve decided to file a claim at this point, it’s wise to get legal advice from our experienced elder abuse attorneys. You’ll want to learn about your rights and what legal steps you can take to protect your loved one. If or when you decide to pursue a bedsore claim, your lawyer should be capable of representing you against the nursing home management, insurance company, or legal team.
Contact a Trusted Bed Sores Lawyer in Orange County
Southern Californians trust the attorneys at Barrios & Machado for their bedsores and elder neglect claims. Our lawyers are not only experienced in these cases, they are also tenacious when facing healthcare companies and insurers.
Talk to us in a free and confidential consultation. Call Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696 today.