Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers

Of course, no one ever enters a medical facility expecting to get sicker. Unfortunately, thousands of people who enter nursing homes and hospitals every year for medical treatment or rehabilitative care wind up developing a complication that is more painful and enduring than they ever could have imagined— the development of a pressure ulcer. Pressure ulcers (also referred to as bed sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers) are an all too common and painful problem for nursing home residents. Most pressure sores are preventable and are caused by faulty care where the nursing home or hospital does provide adequate care to prevent and treat bed sores. Patients vulnerable to developing pressure sores are the elderly, people who are bedridden, and people with diabetes.

Knowing the devastation that can come about after a pressure sore develops; facilities must make prevention of pressure sores a priority and implement a pressure sore prevention program. Pressure sores in nursing homes can be prevented by taking simple preventative measures including:

  • Turning patients
  • Using pressure reducing mattresses and pads (pressure relieving devices)
  • Keeping residents clean and dry
  • Providing adequate nutrition and hydration
  • Performing skin checks
  • Using music over a loudspeaker that stops when it is time for position changes
  • Using ultraviolet therapy while doing wound care helps eliminate the odor associated with pressure ulcers. This can assist the patient in healing because it helps focus on taking care of the wound and not controlling the smell

Pressure ulcers are indeed preventable in the overwhelming majority of circumstances. The key is to quickly identify patients who are at risk after their admission to a medical facility and timely, and effectively implement preventative measures such as regular pressure relief and ensuring patients remain clean and dry.

Medicare has determined that pressure ulcers are indeed preventable and hospitals and nursing homes may no longer seek reimbursement for patients who develop pressure ulcers during a stay. While Medicare’s assignment of pressure ulcers to its list of never events remains an important development for patient safety, the fact remains that pressure ulcers are indeed a significant problem for many patients and result in many families seeking answers regarding medical care and legal options. Our bed sore lawyers can help get your questions answered.

Pressure sores (Bedsores, Decubitus or Pressure Ulcers) are a very graphic sign of systematic poor care at medical facilities and other long-term care institutions. The development of pressure sores is becoming an epidemic amongst patients in nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities. In fact, studies suggest that patients in medical facilities today are more likely to develop pressure sores than they were just ten years ago!

The mechanics behind the development of pressure sores (also called bed sores, pressures ulcers or decubitus ulcers) involve unrelieved pressure on bony parts of the body over an extended period of time. Gradually, blood flow becomes restricted and the skin and tissue die, resulting in the development of a wound in the area.

Pressure sores most commonly develop in bony areas of the body with little muscle or tissue to cushion the weight of the body over an extended period of time. Although a pressure sore can develop almost anywhere, the most common areas of the body prone to develop the wounds include the:

  • Buttocks
  • Heels
  • Back
  • Head

When unrelieved pressure combines with other conditions such as incontinence and malnourishment the patient’s risk for developing pressure sores is exponentially increased. In addition to the pain and disability that accompanies the actual pressure sore, and open wound (that accompanies an advanced pressure sore) is the substantial increase in the patient’s likelihood of serious medical complications including:

  • Infection
  • Sepsis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Gangrene
  • Amputation
  • Death

The overwhelming majority of pressure sore lawsuits against medical facilities derive from the fact that the facility was simply not doing an adequate job caring for the patient. While the underlying reasons may be complex; under-staffing and inadequate training of staff are recurring themes in pressure sore lawsuits. We have experience litigating and settling cases involving the development of pressure sores in all types of facilities. Our pressure sore attorneys can evaluate you pressure sore case and advise you of your legal rights, with an emphasis on timely and effective resolution of cases.

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