Bedsore Lawyer: What To Look For And How To Get Help
“Should I call a lawyer?” That’s what most people ask when they discover that a loved one developed a bedsore in a nursing home. And it’s a reasonable question.
Federal laws and regulations make preventing bedsores the care facility’s responsibility, whether it’s a nursing home, hospital, or assisted living center. And they are preventable. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) categorize bedsores as a “never event,” meaning they are never acceptable and should never be a normal part of life in a nursing home. Yet bedsores are still common in long-term care facilities, usually because the nurses and aides are overworked due to understaffing.
If a care facility fails to prevent your elderly loved one from getting a bedsore, it could be liable for malpractice and negligence. A bedsore lawyer can help you hold the nursing home accountable. This article provides an overview of this type of case to help you decide if contacting an attorney is the best next step.
How Do Bedsores Form?
Bedsores, also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores, happen when blood flow to the skin is restricted due to the weight of the body putting pressure on areas such as on or above the buttocks, heels, hips, elbows, shoulders, or even the head. If a person has limited mobility and can’t regularly reposition themselves on a bed or chair, the lack of movement will cause a bedsore to develop. Improper hygiene is also a major factor in developing bedsores.
People over the age of 60 are the most at-risk for bedsores because they often lack the strength and coordination to reposition themselves when sitting or lying down. Because of the increased risk for this age group, care facilities like nursing homes and hospitals bear the sole responsibility of keeping these wounds from forming.
How Do Nursing Homes Prevent & Treat Bedsores?
When a patient in a care facility cannot move in bed on their own, the nursing home staff or hospital nurses must reposition the patient at least every two hours or more frequently to offload pressure and prevent bedsores. If a patient is not shifted to redistribute their weight, these sores can develop. Also, if nursing home staff does not timely and properly treat the sores before they worsen, it can cause serious health complications.
Bedsores are categorized based on severity, ranging from stage 1 (mildest) to stage 4 (worst). A stage 1 bedsore is a smaller red spot that’s somewhat like a rash, whereas a stage 4 bedsore is a severe wound that is life threatening to the patient. Some bedsores are so advanced and serious that they are termed “unstageable.” The stage of the wound determines the treatment options available. Stage 1 and 2 are very treatable and can typically be healed without endangering the person’s health, but if the wound is left untreated and advances to a stage 3, stage 4, or unstageable level, it can be life threatening.
All nursing homes are required to keep track of any bedsores or physical injuries that appear on patients in their facilities. If your elderly loved one develops a bedsore, it could be a case of nursing home neglect. And if their bedsore was not documented or reported in a timely manner, that is also a sign that neglect was involved and it would be wise to consult with a bedsore lawyer to learn about your options.
What Happens If Bedsores Go Untreated?
As mentioned above, untreated bedsores are very serious and can lead to significant loss of health or death. A 2020 study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that patients are 2 to 6 times more likely to die from pressure ulcers than from other high-mortality issues, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. If these wounds aren’t properly and promptly treated, patients can develop dangerous infections, such as sepsis (blood infection), osteomyelitis (bone infection), MRSA, E. Coli, and more. In the worst-case scenario, a patient can die from bedsores and sometimes trigger a case of wrongful death.
Can I File a Lawsuit Over an Elderly Loved One’s Bedsores?
Yes, filing a lawsuit against a nursing home for bedsores is entirely possible. Because this type of injury is preventable with regular repositioning, it should never happen; if the injury does happen, it can be a clear indication of nursing home neglect and liability. A suit can help your family receive compensation for losses it has suffered, and can also spur much needed facility changes that improve care for the other nursing home residents.
Typically, litigation will arise if the case involves a stage 4 or unstageable bedsore because these wounds pose the most serious health risk to the patient. That being said, if your elderly loved one has a lower-stage bedsore or there has been other indications of nursing home neglect, we strongly recommend you contact a bedsore lawyer regardless to review your case—it’s best to get experienced legal advice before the worst happens.
What Will a Bedsore Lawsuit Involve?
If your loved one developed a bedsore in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital that wasn’t documented and treated immediately, you should consider whether to report the incident after speaking to a bedsore lawyer.
Also, take pictures of the bedsore(s) and record all details you have relating to the injury. For example, make a list of the nurses and doctors you have spoken to about the wound, what treatments have been applied, the length of time that has passed since the wound first appeared, etc. It’s also important to determine what stage the bedsore has been categorized as.
You should then contact an experienced bedsore lawyer who regularly handles nursing home neglect cases. They can guide you through all the steps you’ll need to take, even if you haven’t yet reported the injury or gathered documentation. Your attorney will assess your case and advise you on whether to pursue a lawsuit. If you do decide to move forward with a suit, the bedsore attorney will gather medical records (including determining the stage of the wound), file all necessary paperwork, interview witnesses, and handle all interactions with the courts and nursing home.
Your lawyer will also lead you through how to assess the proper settlement value in your suit. Keep in mind there is no guaranteed or average settlement amount, even for cases as specific as bedsore lawsuits. Your potential settlement will depend on the details of your particular case.
Most bedsore lawsuits settle out of court, so you can assume your case won’t go to trial. Also, virtually all lawyers in this field work on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay anything unless you win your suit.
Hold a Nursing Home Accountable For a Never Event
Nursing homes, and all medical facilities, can and should be held responsible for bedsores. These life-threatening wounds are entirely preventable, which is why the legal system provides an avenue of recovery through the civil courts.
GT Law Firm has over 30 years of experience handling wrongful death and personal injury cases, specializing in the medical and nursing home industries. If someone you love has suffered from nursing home negligence, we can help you understand if you have a case. Call, text, or email us for a free evaluation. There’s no cost and no obligation.
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