Bedsores are preventable, which means that a nursing home resident who is experiencing bedsores is not being properly cared for. In this case, filing a nursing home abuse claim may be an appropriate course of action.
Bedsores are most often caused by constant pressure on the skin, which occurs if a person is left to lie in bed all day or sit in a chair for extended periods of time. However, shearing motions and friction from inappropriate transfer techniques can also create bedsores. Bedsores are sometimes known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers.
Bedsores from being in a wheelchair often appear on the buttocks, back of the legs, back of the arms, spine, or shoulder blades. Bedsores from being confined to a bed can occur on the back of the head, outside of the ears, shoulders, lower back, hips, knees, heels, or ankles.
Complications Associated With Bedsores
Bedsores can cause serious complications. For example:
- Joint and bone infections can damage cartilage and surrounding tissues, severely restricting range of movement.
- Sepsis is a reaction to a bacterial infection that can cause organ failure and septic shock.
- Squamous cell carcinoma can develop in a patient suffering from chronic bedsores.
- Cellulitis makes the skin red, hot, painful, and tender due to an inflammation of connective tissues.
- Meningitis can be a complication of cellulitis from bedsores.
Although some nursing home residents can make a full recovery from bedsores, complications may be fatal in someone who already has poor overall physical health.
To prevent bedsores, nursing home caregivers are asked to take the following steps:
- Have residents change position once every 15 minutes in a wheelchair or once every two hours in a bed.
- Encourage residents to get regular exercise that's appropriate for their physical limitations.
- Promote good nutrition, as a balanced diet allows the body to better fight the development of bedsores.
- Inspect skin daily for the signs of bedsores, seeking prompt treatment when needed.
A facility that is not taking these approved precautionary measures may be mistreating or neglecting residents in other ways. For example, problems with choking on food or repeated UTIs are also considered indications of negligence.
Options for Handling Nursing Home Abuse
If your loved one is experiencing bedsores due to poor quality nursing care, you should report your concerns to the facility administrator. By law, the administrative office of the nursing home must investigate your complaint and file a report to the state authorities.
If you don't believe your complaint is being taken seriously, you should contact adult protective services or the office of aging in your area. At this time, it is also appropriate to retain the services of an attorney to initiate a nursing home abuse claim.
Seeking Damages in a Nursing Home Abuse Claim
A nursing home abuse claim is a civil proceeding that includes compensation for the following damages:
- Medical treatment such as antibiotics and a hospital stay to address complications of bedsores
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, if the nursing home is found to have engaged in a severe pattern of neglect
In assessing the value of the claim, several different factors will be considered. This includes the resident’s overall physical health, the severity of the bedsores, whether the facility has a past history of neglect, and if an investigative agency's findings support the claim for negligence.
The majority of nursing home abuse cases are settled out of court, with attorneys for both sides working together to negotiate settlement terms.
If the nursing home resident receives Medicaid or Medicare benefits to cover the cost of care, these programs will have a lien on a percentage of any funds recovered in the claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Nursing home abuse claims often present challenging legal issues, but the experienced attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can advocate for your needs throughout the process. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.