More than 2.5 million patients develop bedsores every year while being cared for in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and in the home healthcare setting. Shockingly, at least 60,000 of these patients will die as a direct result of bedsores.
Yet, potentially fatal late stage bedsores are considered ‘never events’ by healthcare professionals, as the development of a late stage bedsore is an event that should never happen. Still, bedsores kill six people an hour, every hour of every day.
If you or your loved one has developed late-stage bedsores and resulting complications, contact us today. We can help you seek justice.
How Bedsores Start
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It is important to understand that bedsores, also called pressure sores and decubitus ulcers, are categorized according to stage. Stage 1 and Stage 2 bedsores are a clear warning sign of tissue breakdown, while Stage 3 and Stage 4 bedsores are indicative of serious problems, as they typically only form when the patient is the victim of improper care.
Some patients have an increased risk of developing bedsores such as the elderly and those with limited mobility. However, you may also be more likely to develop bedsores if you:
- are undergoing cancer treatment
- have a lung condition
- have poor circulation
- have thin skin
- have cardiovascular disease
- suffered a stroke
- are diabetic
- are paralyzed
- have neurological issues
Patients who have an increased risk require vigilant care to prevent the tissue breakdown and abrasions that can lead to cracked and broken skin. Patients who spend long periods of time laying or sitting in the same position have a higher risk of developing bedsores than patients who are active. Patients who have an impaired sense of feeling also have a higher risk for not only developing bedsores but for developing late-stage sores that invite infection because they can not feel the pain of the developing ulcer. These patients must be constantly monitored for signs of tissue breakdown. Because the skin requires nutrients and oxygen to remain healthy, high-risk patients must not become dehydrated or malnourished or the risk of developing bedsores becomes significantly higher.
All healthcare professionals are required to follow the established guidelines for preventing, diagnosing, and treating decubitus ulcers, as well as the procedures that must be completed to keep the wound from getting worse. These guidelines require patients to be:
- regularly monitored for tissue breakdown
- repositioned regularly, based on individual health factors and risk assessment
- kept clean and dry
For high-risk patients to get the level of care required to prevent bedsores, the facility must have an adequate number of staff as well as licensed caregivers trained in the care of decubitus ulcers.
Bedsores Diagnosis and Stages
Bedsores tend to develop in areas of the body that are under prolonged, constant, and direct pressure. Dangers zones for bedsores in a wheelchair-bound person are the parts of the body that touch the chair, such as the:
- Upper thighs
- Behind the knees
- Soles of the feet
- Shoulder blades
- Spinal column
Common areas for bedsores for patients who are confined to bed include:
- Back and sides of the head
- Shoulder blades
- Lower back
- Behind the knees
While patients who must lie on their fronts may develop sores on their:
- Lower abdomen
- Along the shinbone
- Tops of their feet
Bedsores can also develop where the skin stays moist, such as the folds of skin in the inner elbows, so particular care must be given to these susceptible areas.
Stages of Bedsores
Bedsores are staged according to how deep and severe they are. No matter the stage, early diagnosis, and treatment are essential to prevent the wound from getting deeper. Bedsores are painful, so any complaints about an area of pain should be investigated. Unstageable bedsores are those that need to be cleaned by a physician before they can be staged
Stage 1 bedsores generally only involve the upper layer of the skin. If treated immediately and adequately, these sores can heal quickly, sometimes in less than a week. Even though stage 1 bedsores are the most common, do not underestimate how painful they are. At this stage, the wound may be red or discolored and may feel cooler or hotter than nearby skin.
Stage 2 bedsores have penetrated to the deeper layers of the skin. If adequate treatment is provided immediately, the wound may heal in a matter of weeks. The wound may ooze pus or fluid and will appear red, swollen, and will be warm to the touch. It may look like a pus-filled blister and is very painful.
Stage 3 bedsores have burrowed past the layers of the skin to the underlying fatty tissue. You may notice the wound has a foul smell, and has red, raised edges. Fluid or pus may drain from the wound and the tissue around the wound may be black and dead. You may have to take antibiotics for infection and the wound may have to be cleaned by a physician. Proper treatment of a stage 3 bedsore is immediately required and if given, it will still take weeks if not months to heal.
Stage 4 bedsores have penetrated deep beyond the layers of fat and skin to reach the ligaments and muscle and the bone may be visible. The skin around the wound is black, foul-smelling, and has hot, red edges. Pus may drain, and the wound may be infected. Surgical intervention is usually required. Should you receive proper treatment, it may take months to years for the wound to fully heal.
No patient who is receiving medical care should suffer from stage 3 or 4 bedsores. These deadly injuries are preventable and should never occur in a healthcare setting. If you or a loved one have late-stage bedsores, contact us now. You may be entitled to seek justice.
Bedsores and Neglect
Healthcare facilities like nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers are responsible for the medical care they provide their patients. A facility may be liable for the abuse or neglect of a patient, but so may the staff if they fail to provide adequate and reasonable care. Should a facility fail to investigate a claim of abuse, the facility may be held liable.
Where bedsores are concerned, negligence begins with lack of monitoring. All medical providers should be aware of and follow the strict guidelines that are in place to prevent bedsores or to treat bedsores that have already occurred. Patients and the families of patients who suffer bedsores can turn to the legal system to seek remedies for the pain, suffering, and financial losses they have incurred.
In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates the care provided by nursing homes and hospitals in residential care facilities, has established federal guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of bedsores. These rules mean that healthcare facilities have a legal responsibility to identify high-risk patients and develop a specific plan of care for each patient to prevent and treat bedsores. Generally, residential care facilities fail to follow the federal rules if they do not provide adequate training and education and if they are understaffed. Neither of which is the patient’s fault, yet they are the ones that suffer.
You Have Rights and We Protect Those Rights
Millions of patients will develop bedsores despite these guidelines and to make matters worse, most insurance providers, including government-funded insurance providers, typically will not pay hospital-acquired bedsore treatment reimbursements, which means the patient may be stuck footing the bill for negligent care. Patients who develop bedsores must often seek legal remedies for their financial losses and pain and suffering. In fact, more than 17,000 lawsuits are filed yearly on behalf of patients who suffer from bedsores.
We are fierce advocates for people who suffer harm by the very medical facilities they need. If you or someone you love has developed decubitus ulcers due to medical negligence, you have rights by law. We defend those rights and help you seek the justice you deserve. It doesn’t matter what state you are in or what facility has allowed your or your loved one’s bedsores to develop into a late-stage potentially fatal wound. We hold medical facilities liable for injuries they cause.
For decades, we have fought to protect the rights of patients who are harmed by the caregivers who are supposed to ensure they are well taken care of. If you or your loved one developed late-stage bedsores while under the care of medical professionals, contact us today to learn more about your rights, including your right to significant compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
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