At the center of the more than 17,000 bed sore lawsuits that are filed every year is heartbreak and pain. Even though late-stage bedsores are completely preventable in a healthcare setting, more than 2.5 million people will be diagnosed with them this year, and sadly, more than 60 thousand of these victims will die. Your best defense is understanding what bedsores are and how and why they occur.
How Bedsores Start
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, occur when blood flow to the skin is restricted or blocked. Early stage bedsores, (Stage 1 and Stage 2) are common indicators of tissue breakdown and require medical attention. Stage 3 and Stage 4 bedsores are the results of negligent care.
Some patients are more prone to bedsores because of their health and medical conditions including those patients who have limited mobility and the elderly. But other patients may also be prone to these serious and extremely painful wounds including those patients who:
- are diabetic
- are paralyzed
- are in cancer treatment
- have a lung condition
- have cardiovascular disease
- have neurological issues
- have poor circulation
- have thin skin
- suffered a stroke
Vigilant Care is Required
Any patient who is prone to bedsores requires vigilant medical care to prevent tissue breakdown where something as simple as a skin abrasion can lead to broken or cracked skin. Patients who sit or lay in the same position for extended periods of time have a higher risk of bedsores than patients who are mobile. Those who have an impaired sense of feeling due to injury or disease are also more likely to suffer bedsores because they can’t feel the pain they cause. Should these patients suffer malnutrition or dehydration, their risk of bedsores significantly increases.
To aid in the diagnosis and treatment of bedsores, the medical community has established bedsore guidelines that are to be followed when treating these wounds and preventing them from developing into late-stage wounds. These guidelines require caregivers to monitor and treat skin ulcers in a way that prevents them from getting worse.
The guidelines require patients at risk for bedsores to be:
- Monitored regularly throughout each day for tissue breakdown
- Repositioned every two hours or more depending on the health of the patient
- Kept clean and dry to prevent skin abrasions
These guidelines also require that patients get the appropriate level care from adequately trained professionals in facilities that have enough staff to attend to the patient’s individual needs.
When Neglect Becomes Negligence
Stage 1 and Stage 2 bedsores do not indicate neglect. Instead, these early-stage pressure ulcers present a clear indication that the patient needs more attention, turned more often, and monitored more closely. Early-stage bedsores can develop very quickly, and can typically, with proper medical care, resolve in days to weeks.
Stage 3 and Stage 4 bedsores are never events that should not occur in a healthcare setting. Early-stage bedsores progress to late-stage bedsores when the patient is not receiving adequate care or is being neglected by caregivers, and when caregivers are negligent in their duties and responsibilities.
Patients who suffer late-stage bedsores and the families of those who die from late-stage bedsores have a right to seek redress and justice for their injuries and suffering. An experienced, compassionate, and skilled attorney can help.