If you have a loved one who is hospitalized, you may be concerned about the quality of care that they are receiving. Hospitals in the U.S. do not have a particularly good reputation when it comes to the quality of patient care and this is often the case with rehabilitation facilities and other institutions as well. The media has often reported on the abuse and negligence that goes on in both hospitals and nursing homes.
Bedsores can also be known as pressure ulcers and are an all too common occurrence in nursing homes and extended care facilities. The Federal Government has made a determination that “bedsores,” should not happen in nursing homes. See 42 C.F.R. 483.25(b)(ii) (stating “a resident . . . does not develop pressure sores unless the individual’s clinical condition demonstrates that they were unavoidable.”)
The number of cases involving bed sores is large, although the defense in many such cases will argue that the condition was “unavoidable” due to some pre-existing condition.
When a hospital is understaffed, the patients in it will often get bedsores. Bedsores are generally caused by immobility. They can also be caused by patients being handled incorrectly.
What do Bedsores Look Like
If you press your fingers hard up against your skin for a couple of minutes, you will be able to see that your skin becomes discolored. When a person sits or lies in one position for hours at a time, the blood can not circulate properly and this can cause red and painful ulcers to appear on the skin.
Bedsores also referred to as pressure sores, most often appear on the back of the neck, knees, or buttock. The shoulders and heals are often affected as well. The skin temperature may be hotter than normal and the skin may be rougher or softer to the touch than it ordinarily would be.
A variety of factors can contribute to the development of pressure ulcers or bed sores, but they are mostly due to prolonged pressure on a certain area of the body. Typically they’re seen on areas affected by extended time in one position, including the lower back, heels, hips, and tailbone. The odds of a bedsore developing for any patient increases with dehydration and malnutrition, as well as extended exposure to moisture, such as from feces or urine.
If bedsores are neglected, an ulcer will form and they will become painful. The skin will break open and it may fill with fluid. It may also have a crater-like appearance.
If untreated, the sore will go deeper into the skin, eventually affecting the muscle and bone. This can cause permanent damage also.
The Responsibility of the Hospital or Nursing Home
Nursing homes and hospitals care for many invalids and ideally, a trained CNA should visit a patient several times a day to reposition patients and take care of their basic needs. CNAs are also expected to assist patients in going to the bathroom and with other forms of basic hygiene. In some hospitals, an orderly may take on some of these responsibilities.
A hospital will be staffed with nurses and doctors and nursing homes are required by law to have registered nurses on staff.
An RN’s job is to plan patients’ treatment along with the staff doctors. RNs may have as much as six years of training and they must be licensed for the state in which they practice.
A hospital will also employ a dietitian whose job it is to make sure patients receive proper nourishment when they are hospitalized. Unfortunately, many health care facilities will feed patients a diet that is high in starch, fat, and carbohydrates to save money.
A high-fat diet can increase the chance of getting bedsores because too much fat and sodium can cause blood clotting. A menu that includes vegetables, lean protein, and vitamin C is recommended for bedsore sufferers.
Finding an Attorney
If you or a loved one has acquired bedsores due to the negligence of a hospital or nursing home, you may be able to sue them.
Lawsuits involving bed sores have increased hugely in recent years. A recent report indicated that the bed sore litigation bill in the US was almost $27 billion.
You should hire an attorney who has many years of experience in dealing with elder law and medical negligence to pursue litigation involving these matters. You can visit our website for more information.