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Bedsores and Falls in Hospitals and Nursing Homes

Written by
Abraham Jaros
|
Updated on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2023

Patients in hospitals and nursing homes entrust those facilities with their well-being and even their lives. Both hospitals and nursing homes are required by law to provide an adequate level of care. If someone is injured as a result of receiving a level of care that can be considered to be below the accepted standards, or negligent, then you may be entitled to receive compensation with monetary damages.

Bedsores

Bedsores are defined as sores developed by an invalid because of pressure caused by lying in bed in one position. Bedsores that are acquired in a hospital or nursing home are also called “decubitus ulcers" or “pressure sores". These sores are caused by prolonged pressure on any area of the body that comes into continuous contact with the bed or other object and commonly develop in the parts of the body that come into constant contact with the bed such as the lower back area, the heels, elbows and shoulders.

When people are elderly, injured or disabled, they are unable to change positions and move about thus making them susceptible to developing bed sores when confined to a hospital or nursing home facility. These people therefore require the care of others to prevent the development of bed sores. When hospitals and nursing homes do not provide the proper level of care to either avoid the development of bed sores or to diagnose and treat them in a timely manner this constitutes malpractice.

Once bedsores develop, they are often very difficult to treat and heal, which is the reason why bedsores should be prevented by providing proper care. Proper care, unfortunately, requires sufficient and attentive staff. Because in the last few years it appears that hospital and nursing homes are more interested in their profit margins rather than with the safety of their patients’ staffs and trained nurses have been drastically reduced. The number of patients that each staff member must deal with has increased. The number of trained nurses has been reduced and much of the care is provided by aides.

Once a patient is identified to be at risk for bed sores, as a result of being confined to a bed, then that patient needs to be provided with a special bed and also needs to be turned and repositioned on a regular schedule. Once bedsores have developed then it is even more critical for the use of a special bed and for being turned and repositioned on a regular schedule as well as having massages, dressings and ointments applied to the bedsore.

Bedsores are rated as Stage I through Stage IV. Stage I means the bedsore has just affected the surface skin whereas at Stage IV it means you can literally see a open wound, a hole, that goes down to the bone. Once a bedsore develops it becomes very painful because the pressure that caused the bedsore is now being applied to the bedsore. Once the bedsore becomes an open wound it becomes a fertile area for infection to develop. Since the patients that are susceptible to bedsores, as a result of their frailty and being confined to a bed, are often also incontinent, unfortunately, infections may result in their untimely death.

The personal injury attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros for many years have successfully handled numerous cases involving both the proper care, as well as the avoidance of bed sores. Since there are special rules and laws that apply to hospitals and nursing homes, specifically with regard to bed sores, it is important to speak to an attorney with experience in this area of law.

Falls

Falls in hospitals and nursing homes are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. When patients are admitted to a facility, they need to be properly evaluated for what is called a “fall risk assessment". Once a patient is evaluated then the proper level of care, monitoring and assistance needs to be provided.

Nursing home residents are more likely to fall because they:

  • Tend to be older and frailer, that’s why they’re in nursing homes
  • Have more chronic conditions and more difficulty walking
  • Tend to have cognitive issues
  • Are less able to manage simple tasks like dressing on their own
  • Have poorer balance and more general muscle weakness
  • Take more medications that increase the risk of falls,
  • May suffer weakness from being improperly nourished or hydrated

The lawyers at Jaroslawicz & Jaros have successfully represented many patients that suffered injuries due to falling in both hospitals and nursing homes. Patients our firm has represented who have fallen and been injured comprise many different circumstances, including;

  • a commode which was missing the proper rubber ends on its legs and slipped from under a patient;
  • a patient who was dropped while being lifted by a HOYA lift;
  • a patient who was left to go the bathroom on his own despite having been evaluated as requiring assistance and slipped and fell;
  • patients who needed to use the bathroom and the nurses did not answer the call bells so they tried to get out of bed on their own and were injured when they fell;
  • bed rails that were left in a down position when they should have been raised;
  • patients suffering dementia or confusion who were left unattended:
  • a patient that fell off of a bed when the mattress fell off the bed:
  • and many other specific fact patterns.

Unfortunately, falls in hospitals and nursing homes can result in serious injuries, and in elderly and frail patients often result in a fractured hip or other serious fractures. As a result of these injuries many patients may physically and mentally deteriorate, and even die. That is why the prevention of these types of injuries with proper care is so important.

Ways that negligence could be found:

  • The staff was not trained properly and to prevent the accident.
  • The elderly person was not being supervised when supervision was clearly needed.
  • There was deliberate misconduct, with a nursing home staff member causing the accident.
  • The equipment and furniture used was not safe. Perhaps it was equipment that was clearly too dangerous for the elderly to use or did not take into account the increased fall risk.
  • The property was in poor condition and wasn’t maintained properly. For instance, a loose banister gave way. It was intended to prevent falls, but it caused the one that injured your loved one. A few loose screws can make a world of difference, and facilities have to be maintained with consistent upkeep.

With respect to nursing homes or residential health care facilities, the law is particularly strict. If a patient suffers any damages in a nursing home because of a failure to treat the patient properly, a private lawsuit may be brought to recover your damages. The law also provides that if the plaintiff is successful, the nursing home may have to pay the plaintiff’s reasonable legal fees.

So, if you or someone you know were injured in a Hospital or Nursing Home as a result of a fall, or who suffered from bedsores, then you need to contact the attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros who can review the medical and nursing home records with an appropriate medical expert, including nurses and doctors, and can then provide you with a legal opinion.

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