Bed Sore and Pressure Ulcer Lawyer

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Wednesday, Mar 6, 2024

What are bedsores?

Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers and pressure sores. These are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure to the surface of the skin. Preventing bedsores is critical as once they do develop treatment is difficult. When bedsores do develop, they must be prevented from getting worse.

Patients who cannot move on their own must rely on nursing staff to move them frequently and change their positions so as to prevent bedsores from forming. When people are elderly, injured or disabled, they are unable to change positions and move about thus making them susceptible to developing bedsores 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.

Because in the last few years it appears that hospitals and nursing homes are more interested in their profit margins, rather than with the safety of their patients’ well-being, staff 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.

Bedsores are most often found in the area of the heels, ankles, hips, shoulder blades and tailbones. Bedsores develop after a patient spends an extended period confined to a chair or a bed, and is unable to move about and change or turn their position on their own. It’s the inability to change their position that makes residents in nursing homes and hospitals especially vulnerable to develop bedsores.

Once a patient is identified as being 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 and even surgery.

Bedsores are “staged," or classified, starting with Stages 1, 2, and 3, with the worst being stage 4. What often happens is a bedsore will develop and be at Stage 1, and then progress through to levels 2 and 3 until it reaches the worst, Stage 4. Stage 4 is where it actually develops into a sore that goes down to the bone.

  • Stage I: Is an area of intact skin with a localized area of redness that does not fade or turn white when pressed on.
  • Stage II: Are a shallow ulcer with a loss of the top layer of skin. It is pink, red and moist in appearance. It can also show up as an intact clear fluid filled blister.
  • Stage III: Appear with a “full-thickness skin loss”. These pressure ulcers can have a red, grainy appearance or be covered with non-living tissue, called slough and/or eschar. They can also appear as blood filled blisters.
  • Stage IV: Is a full-thickness skin loss with bone, tendon, muscle, fascia, ligament, and/or cartilage exposed.

Unstageable – Is when it is obscured by full-thickness skin and tissue loss and covered with dead skin. Due to the inability to visualize the actual depth of the pressure ulcer it cannot be accurately staged.

Obviously, the worse the bedsore becomes the more difficult it is to treat and the longer it takes to heal. So avoiding the development and the prevention of any bedsore is the most desirable result. If a bedsore does develop, then preventing a stage 1 from deteriorating and becoming a stage 2, 3 or 4 is required.

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 also often incontinent, unfortunately, infections may result in their untimely death.

Are bedsores treatable?

The short answer is, usually. If symptoms appear and you see a small sore on your loved one, it’s time to get involved. The faster you consult with a health care provider, the more likely the bedsore is treatable and will heal completely.

If a patient waits too long for treatment, the sore may not heal properly or even become life-threatening in some instances. The danger comes from an infection developing in the open bedsore and then spreading to the blood, heart and bone.

These dangers make it crucial for nursing home and hospital staff, as well as family members, to be on the lookout for the first signs of bedsores developing and to seek immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on the nursing home or hospital staff to keep close attention to your parents or grandparents.

We all try our best to find the best nursing homes and hospitals to care for our parents and family. We look into the facility and the staff that manages the residents and even its location. However, we can never be really sure of how a home or a hospital treats their patients behind closed doors.

Some of the symptoms of bedsores include:

  • Changes in skin color or texture
  • Swelling
  • Pus-like draining
  • Areas that feel warmer or cooler to the touch
  • Tender parts of the skin
  • Breaks in the skin
  • It is very important for you to try to take photographs of the bedsores to document them as soon as they appear. We have found that the staff will often try to cover up the bedsores and not even advise the family of their existence. The staff will often ask the family to leave the room when treating the patient which results in the family not seeing the bedsores. It is important for you to try to examine the patient as often as possible to detect the early development of any bedsores.

    So, if you or someone you know has suffered from bedsores in a Hospital or Nursing Home 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 their legal opinion.

    The injury attorneys at Jaroslawicz & Jaros 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 the law.

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