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Bedsores and Healthcare Negligence in Nursing Homes

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Last Updated: 07-14-2023

Bedsores and Healthcare Negligence in Nursing Homes

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, or ulcers, are caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They can cause infections and other life-threatening conditions. These include cancer, sepsis, gas gangrene, and bone and joint infections. Call us if you or a loved one suffered bedsores and healthcare negligence due to a nursing home’s carelessness.

Bedsores are injuries to the skin and tissue beneath the skin (epidermis and dermis) and occur due to pressure on the skin, usually from a bed or wheelchair. This pressure decreases blood flow which delivers oxygen and other nutrients to tissues. If the nutrients are not delivered properly, the skin cells and tissue may become damaged and die. Sustained pressure is caused by immobility, associated with conditions such as poor general health, sedation, surgery recovery, paralysis, and comatose.

Where Bedsores Occur

Bedsores often occur on skin protecting bony parts of the body since the skin faces more pressure due to the friction between the bone and the outside surface. Bedridden people or those in wheelchairs are most susceptible to bedsores. They frequently occur on the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, spine, backs of arms and legs, back or sides of the head, rims of the ears, hips, lower back, heels, ankles, and the skin behind the knees.

Since bedsores are caused by immobility, they often occur due to negligence by a healthcare provider who fails to attend to the patient’s well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10% of residents in nursing homes currently suffer from bedsores. Bedsores are painful and sometimes life-threatening. Yet they are easily avoided if a healthcare provider takes the proper precautions.

Bedsore Classification

Bedsores are categorized based on their severity, as follows:

Stage 1 is the least severe. At this stage, the sores are not open wounds. The skin may be painful, but there are no breaks or tears. However, the person will experience persistent redness of the skin.

At stage 2, the skin breaks open, forming an ulcer that might appear as a blister. There may be a loss of partial thickness of the skin as the sore extends into deeper layers of the skin. At this stage, the skin becomes tender and painful.

During stage 3, the sore gets worse. The ulcer exhibits a loss of full thickness of the skin. It extends into the tissue beneath the skin until a deep crater is visible.

Stage 4 is the most severe sore causing extensive damage. At this stage, the sore is very deep, causing a loss of full skin thickness and reaching into muscle and bone. 

Bedsores may also be considered “unstageable” in that the surface is covered with dark tissue so that the depth of the wound is not visible.

Consequences of Bedsores

Bedsores can lead to extremely serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. The most common consequence of stage III and IV bedsores is sepsis. That occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream through the sore. The bacteria rapidly spread throughout the body and infect it. If left untreated, sepsis can lead to organ failure. Bedsores can also lead to cellulitis. An infection of the skin and soft tissues and bone and joint infections. Which are all life-threatening illnesses. In rare cases, bedsores may lead to the development of a cancerous cell that grows specifically in non-healing wounds.

Stage I and II bedsores may be healed within several weeks with effective treatment through the use of pain management medication and antibiotics. Stage III and IV bedsores are much more difficult to treat. If a person experiences signs of bedsore, the best treatment is to move, if possible. If there are no signs of improvement within 24-48 hours, the wound may be infected, and a doctor must be called. The signs of infected bedsores include fever, drainage from the sore, increased heat, and/or redness surrounding the sore. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Bedsores Caused by Negligence

Bedsores are extremely painful and are considered to be serious medical conditions. In fact, the presence or lack of bedsores is one of the main ways to assess the quality of care in a nursing home. Bedsores are caused by immobility; when a person cannot move on their own, it is the responsibility of their caretaker to make sure that they are moved, turned, and bathed regularly. For this reason, bedsores frequently occur due to negligence. Typically in rehab, hospitals, long-term care, or nursing homes. Bedsores are preventable if nursing home staff follow proper medical care and daily patient monitoring procedures.

Nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities are supposed to provide their patients with high-quality care. There are specific standards that care facilities must follow to ensure that they provide the necessary quality care and services. When a new patient enters a facility, the facility must provide the “necessary treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection, and prevent new sores from developing.” These standards can be found in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 483.25(c). Created by the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

Bedsores Legal Help

Bedsores often develop through neglect when the patient does not receive adequate care, including the failure to reposition immobilized residents regularly. A nursing home may be held liable or legally responsible for any bedsores an individual subsequently suffers.

If your loved one is suffering from bedsores due to the inattention or inadequate care of a nursing home or long-term care facility, contact Hach & Rose, LLP, today by calling (212) 779-0057 to speak with a qualified New York nursing home abuse attorney.

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