Pressure sores, otherwise known as bedsores, are one of the most common injuries suffered by residents of nursing homes. Pressure sores are a largely preventable injury that can grow into a full-fledged infection without proper medical care. In a worst-case scenario, the resident can die from sepsis resulting from the infection. Pressure sores are perhaps the most prevalent injury that forms the basis of a lawsuit against a nursing home. Oftentimes, the fact patterns involved in a successful bedsores lawsuit are on the more egregious side, with evidence of neglect of the nursing home resident.
If your loved one has suffered from pressure sores and has sustained an injury as a result, you should obtain legal representation in order to hold the nursing home accountable. Legal counsel can help you prove that bedsore resulted from the inattention of either the nursing care or the medical care at the facility where your loved one resides.
What Causes Pressure Sores To Form?
Unrelieved pressure from a bed or wheelchair can cut off circulation to the underlying skin and can ultimately cause the tissue to die from a lack of oxygen. This type of injury creates a pressure sore, which can progress into an open wound susceptible to infection and resulting in septic shock, gangrene and even death.
In most cases, pressure sores develop on an immobilized person’s buttocks, hips, heels, ankles or elbows. With regard to these injuries, nursing homes are often found guilty of neglect or abuse if they act in the following manner by:
- Permitting a resident to sit or lie in the same position for long periods of time
- Allowing a resident to become malnourished or dehydrated
- Failing to change soiled diapers or sheets, which keeps moisture next to the skin and contributes to skin breakdown
- Failing to properly assess and monitor a resident for any signs of developing bedsores
- Delaying in notifying the resident’s family and doctor if bedsores do develop
The 4 Stages of Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are characterized in four stages:
Stage One Pressure Sores
The sores have developed but are not yet open wounds. Though an individual may feel pain, there are typically no breaks or tears in the reddened skin. Additionally, the skin may lose color when pressing a finger to it. A sign of further pressure ulcer development can be warm skin temperature as well as feeling softer or firmer around the affected area.
Stage Two Pressure Sores
The skin around the sores may break open, wear away, or form a painful ulcer. At this stage, the sore deepens into the skin and can look like a scrape, blister, or crater. It is possible for skin at this stage to be damaged beyond repair or die.
Stage Three Pressure Sores
The sore continues to worsen as it extends into the soft tissue underneath the skin, forming a small crater.
Stage Four Pressure Sores
The most severe type of skin ulcer, a pressure sore is very deep, often reaching into muscle and bone, causing irreversible harm. In many instances, an individual may not feel pain because the tissue in an area has been so badly damaged.
Holding Caregivers Accountable for Pressure Sores
With proper caregiving, pressure sores should ideally never develop and should never progress to stage 3 or greater. Seniors should be rotated or helped to move frequently by nursing home staff or other caregivers to avoid staying in the same place for too long. Special pressure-reducing furniture and equipment are often used as well to try to fight the development of pressure sores.
Once these sores begin to form, nursing home staff or caregivers should seek prompt medical attention for a senior to stop the progression of the bedsores. A failure to either prevent bedsores or secure medical aid can be clear signs of negligence that could result in civil liability. Cogburn Law should be consulted for help in pursuing a civil action for damages resulting from a caregiver and nursing home’s lapse of reasonable care that caused the advanced pressure sores to develop.
Filing A Claim Over Pressure Sore Injuries
Once a pressure sore injury occurs due to negligence on the part of the skilled nursing facility, the patient or their family should take immediate action. In the event of pressure sores, families should take pictures of the wound and insist that the facility also take photos so a record exists. Many nursing homes try to hide these injuries by not documenting them.
The deadline to file a claim varies from one to two years but is typically limited to one year after an injury is discovered. If your loved one dies as a result of negligence by the facility or its staff members, families can still take legal action. Medical records must be kept for seven years, and your attorney can obtain them through a court order.
Contact A Pressure Sore Attorney In Las Vegas
If you or someone close to you has developed pressure sores in a Las Vegas nursing home, contact Cogburn Law today at (702) 748-7777 to schedule a free consultation