Pressure ulcers are a huge problem in nursing homes and other care facilities. Also called “bed sores,” they develop when blood is cut off from some point in the body and tissue dies as a result. Ulcers vary in terms of severity, with mild ulcers posing the least risk. But when left untreated, even a mild ulcer can grow deeper—sometimes all the way to the bone.
Proper medical care can prevent pressure ulcers from forming in the first place, as our Albany medical malpractice lawyers describe below. If you or a loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home or hospital, please contact us today. We will discuss your chances of seeking compensation in a claim or lawsuit.
How Common Are Pressure Ulcers?
A bedsore can develop whenever a person remains bedridden for any length of time. Different studies yield different numbers, but one study from the National Center for Health Statistics found that 11% of nursing home residents had pressure ulcers.
What Are Early Signs of Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers develop due to lack of blood to an area that is resting on a bed or chair. They are common on the buttocks and tailbone but also on the heel of the foot.
Early signs include pain and discoloration, typically redness or even a purple color. Unfortunately, many patients cannot communicate or are even unconscious, so they cannot tell a doctor where they are feeling pain. It’s up to the medical team to check over a patient and adjust them to relieve pressure.
How Do You Avoid Pressure Ulcers?
The most common way is to adjust a person’s position in bed regularly. Regular repositioning prevents blood from being cut off to any location for days.
Other ulcers are caused by wet skin, which can create friction and even tears in the skin. Hospital staff should make sure that patients are dry, which usually means regularly changing diapers and clothes.
Why Does Medical Staff Fail to Respond in Time?
Unfortunately, negligent medical care is a leading reason that patients develop pressure ulcers. Some common reasons for this malpractice include:
· Understaffing. The few staff members on duty are overwhelmed with tasks and can’t properly inspect patients for pressure ulcers or carefully reposition them to keep ulcers from forming. Nursing homes and hospitals are routinely understaffed.
· Improper supervision or training. Some staff members fail to receive proper training on how to identify bed sores or how to respond to them.
· Miscommunication. A nurse’s aide might see the beginning signs of a bed sore but not communicate this fact to the medical team. A minor bedsore can become much worse.
· Carelessness. Members of the medical team might not take their jobs seriously, preferring to text on their phones or gossip instead of attending to patient needs. Some aides breeze through their jobs.
· Abuse. Sadly, some hospital or nursing home staff enjoy abusing patients, and they might intentionally conceal evidence of a bed sore.
Bed Sores Are Expensive to Treat
A mild, Stage 1 bedsore might heal on its own if the patient is repositioned quickly. You might also wash the sore with a mild soap to keep it clean before thoroughly drying it. A Stage 1 pressure sore can go away on its own after a few days if handled properly.
Unfortunately, more serious bedsores need more aggressive treatment. A Stage 3 bedsore will break through both layers of skin and go down to the fatty tissue. These bedsores are at serious risk of becoming infected, which will require antibiotics and possibly surgery. These more serious bedsores can take several months to heal and might cost up to $100,000 in medical care.
You Have Legal Rights
Moderate and severe pressure ulcers are expensive and painful. Victims deserve compensation when negligent health care providers fail to prevent these ulcers or treat them in a timely manner.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we can investigate why a mild pressure ulcer progressed to something more serious. Nursing homes and hospitals are rarely eager to open their patient records to concerned family members. You might hear all sorts of stories in an attempt to “explain away” the pressure ulcer. Don’t believe the first thing you hear.
Contact our law firm as soon as possible. There is no excuse for a mild bed sore progressing to infection and soft-tissue injury. Possible compensation includes damages for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Our Albany medical malpractice attorney can review the value of your claim in a free consultation. Please call to set up an appointment.