When someone you love is in a nursing home, hospital or other care facility, you trust they’ll be cared for properly. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. One of the surest signs of neglect is bedsores. Also known as a pressure ulcer, this entirely preventable injury can lead to major health complications. If the person is elderly or has a preexisting health condition such as diabetes, bedsores can even cause dangerous, life-threatening infections.
If you or a loved one have developed bed sores due to medical neglect, The Dominguez Firm can help. Call us today for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818. Our personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly for your right to the maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
What follows is more information on bedsore injuries and your legal rights if you or a loved one develop bedsores due to medical malpractice and neglect.
What Exactly is a Bedsore and Why Are They Considered a Sign of Poor Care?
A bedsore is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue caused by prolonged pressure on a particular area of the body. Bedsores are most commonly found on bony parts of the body, such as the heels, tailbone, and hips. They can develop in bedridden individuals, those with limited mobility, or anyone confined to a wheelchair.
Bedsores are considered a sign of poor care because they are completely preventable with proper attention. This includes positioning and turning, proper hygiene and skin care of patients by nurses or other staff. When individuals are not moved or turned regularly, the pressure on a specific area can restrict blood flow, causing damage to the skin and tissue. This lack of attention to the individual’s needs and well-being, and may warrant an investigation into the quality of care being provided.
Furthermore, residents or patients with dementia suffer from bedsores more often than those who can effectively communicate any discomfort with medical staff. 38% of communicative individuals had bedsores treated right away while only 13% of those with dementia and other cognitive impairments received immediate attention.
What Are Some Bedsore Symptoms?
Bedsores can cause a range of symptoms, depending on the severity of the wound. Some common symptoms include:
If you suspect that you or a loved one have a bedsore, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. Early treatment can help prevent the wound from becoming more serious and minimize the risk of complications.
How Do Bedsores Progress?
Medical science classifies bedsores in stages, from 1 to 4 with 4 being the most severe:
- Stage 1: The earliest stage of a bedsore, characterized by redness of the skin and pain or tenderness in the affected area. At this stage, the skin may appear normal but is painful and warm to the touch.
- Stage 2: The wound begins to break down and form an open, shallow ulcer that extends into the skin layers. The surrounding skin may appear red and swollen, and the wound may produce clear or yellow fluid.
- Stage 3: The wound becomes deeper, affecting the underlying muscle and fat. The wound may appear crater-like and may have edges that are discolored and raised.
- Stage 4: The most severe stage of a bedsore, characterized by full-thickness skin and tissue loss, exposing muscle, bone, and tendons. The wound may be extensive and have a bad odor.
Bedsores should always be taken seriously. The stages of bedsores can progress quickly, particularly in individuals with limited mobility, and can lead to serious complications and even death if left untreated. Just as importantly, bedsores can be extremely painful, causing the person to suffer unnecessarily.
Where on the Body Do Bedsores Most Commonly Occur?
Bedsores most commonly appear on the following areas of the body:
- Tailbone (coccyx)
- Hip bones
- Back of the head
These areas are vulnerable because they have little flesh to cushion the bones against a hard surface, which can cause continuous pressure and lead to the development of bedsores.
How Does Hospital or Nursing Home Neglect Lead to Bedsores?
As mentioned previously, bedsores are an obvious physical sign of neglect by hospital and nursing home staffs. The reasons why are:
- Inadequate turning and repositioning: Patients who are unable to move on their own and who are not turned and repositioned regularly may experience continuous pressure on one area of the skin, leading to the development of bedsores.
- Improper hygiene: Failure to properly clean and care for a patient’s skin can lead to the buildup of moisture, which can weaken the skin and increase the risk of bedsore development.
- Improper nutrition: Patients who do not receive adequate nutrition and hydration may have weakened skin that is more susceptible to bedsores.
- Inadequate staff: Hospitals and nursing homes with low staffing levels may not have enough personnel to adequately care for all patients, leading to neglect and an increased risk of bedsore development.
- Improper equipment: Patients who are not provided with proper bedding and support devices, such as air mattresses or foam cushions, are at a higher risk of developing bedsores.
What Should I Do if I Suspect My Loved One is Suffering From Neglect in a Nursing Home?
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from neglect in a nursing home in California, it’s important to act quickly to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some steps to take:
- Document the situation: Take notes, pictures, and gather any other evidence of the neglect. This can be helpful if you need to take legal action or file a complaint.
- Report the neglect: In California, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which is responsible for investigating allegations of neglect and abuse in nursing homes. You can file your complaint online, by mail, or by phone.
- Seek medical attention: If your loved one has been physically or emotionally injured, make sure they receive prompt medical attention.
- Ensure your loved one’s safety: If you think they are in immediate danger, remove them from the facility as soon as possible and find alternative living arrangements.
- Contact an attorney: If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of neglect or abuse, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
It is important to act quickly to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one, and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
What Compensation is Available for a Bedsore Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one suffered serious health complications because of bedsores, you can file a civil lawsuit against those responsible. The objective in every civil case is to financially compensate the victim for the monetary and emotional losses they’ve suffered.
Examples of the types of economic and non-economic compensation available include:
Medical expenses make up the largest part of a bedsore patient’s economic damages:
- Doctor visits
- Visits with specialists
- Any surgeries
If the person had been working before developing bedsores, they would be entitled to compensation for lost income also.
The person would also be entitled to non-economic compensation for their emotional losses resulting from their bedsore injury:
- Pain and suffering caused by the bedsore, including physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
- Loss of enjoyment of life refers to the inability to participate in activities or hobbies due to the injury.
- Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship, intimacy, and support of a spouse or partner.
If the healthcare provider’s behavior was intentional, the victim could also receive punitive damages.
These are meant more to punish the healthcare provider and make an example of them to discourage similar behavior from others in the future.
The specific compensation available in a bedsore medical malpractice lawsuit will depend on the individual case and the severity of the injury. It is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your case and determine the potential compensation available to you.
Call the Medical Malpractice Bedsore Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm
Bedsore injuries are entirely preventable, which is what makes them so frustrating. Both the person impacted and their families needlessly suffer due to poor care and outright neglect. Holding those tasked with caring for them accountable can send a clear signal that such negligent behavior is unacceptable and must be answered for. It can also provide much-needed financial peace of mind at a very difficult time.
The medical malpractice bedsore lawyers at The Dominguez Firm have years of experience successfully representing clients who developed bedsores in nursing homes and other medical facilities. Our in-depth understanding of the complexities involved in bedsore medical malpractice cases, combined with our legal knowledge and resources, gives you a distinct advantage other personal injury firms can’t offer. Call us today at (800) 818-1818 for your free consultation.