Bed Sores, also known as pressure ulcers, pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, are preventable wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They may be a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or hospital negligence in some cases.
A pressure ulcer is an area of skin that breaks down when a patient remains in one position for too long without their weight being shifted. This often happens to patients in wheelchairs or who are bedridden, even for a short period of time (for example, after surgery or an injury). The constant pressure on the skin reduces the blood supply to that area, and the affected tissue dies.
A pressure ulcer begins as reddened skin, gets progressively worse, forming a blister, then an open sore, and finally a crater. The most common places for pressure ulcers are over bony areas like the elbow, heels, hips, ankles, shoulders, back, and the back of the head.
Despite dubious claims from the health care industry, bed sores/ pressure ulcers are almost always preventable with competent nursing care and medical supervision. To prevent bed sores from occurring, nurses in nursing homes or hospitals must make an assessment of those individuals who are at heightened risk for developing pressure ulcers and create a proper plan for their care. A care plan should include: frequent rotation to prevent sitting or lying in one area for long periods, pressure relieving air mattresses and special high nutrition diets. Even if a proper care plan is developed, it must be implemented. If proper measures are not taken, the tragic result is the development of preventable pressure ulcers. Nursing homes and hospitals should be held legally accountable when, negligence results in a patient developing a bed sore.
Factors increasing the risk for development of pressure ulcers:
- Being bedridden or in a wheelchair
- Fragile skin
- Having a chronic condition, such as diabetes or vascular disease, that prevents areas of the body from receiving proper blood flow
- Inability to move certain parts of your body without assistance, such as after spinal or brain injury or if you have a neuromuscular disease (like multiple sclerosis)
- Mental disability from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease — the patient may not be able to properly prevent or treat pressure ulcers
- Older age
- Urinary incontinence or bowel incontinence
These conditions are not uncommon and when they exist, nursing homes and hospitals are required to take the necessary steps to prevent the development of pressure ulcers and bed sores.
Nursing Home Abuse and Hospital Malpractice Cases
Nursing home abuse and neglect are common causes of bed sores. The bed sore lawyers at De Caro & Kaplen, LLP have successfully represented individuals who developed bed sores as a result of careless hospital and nursing home negligence throughout New York City and New York State.
When a patient’s age, medical condition and weight predispose that individual to acquiring a pressure sore, special precautions are required to prevent the bed sore from developing. The elderly and infirm are the most prone to develop a pressure sore if preventable measures are not instituted. In these cases, the hospital or nursing home staff must be aware of the increased vulnerability of their patient to developing bed sores and be vigilant in insuring that the individual’s skin is always dry and clean, that the patient is turned on a frequent basis, and that the individual receives proper hydration and nutrition.
Pressure Ulcer Scoring System:
The most common system for staging bed sores/decubitus ulcers, classifies them based upon the depth of skin damage, ranging from the least severe (stage 1) to the most severe (stage 4).
- Stage 1 Pressure Ulcer: redness of the skin
- Stage 2 Pressure Ulcer: skin has abrasions, blisters
- Stage 3 Pressure Ulcer: skin has lost its full integrity and has the appearance of a deep crater
- Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer: skin has lost its integrity and now bone or muscle is exposed
Report on Bed Sores from the Center for Disease Control
In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in 10 nursing home residents had some form of pressure ulcer within the year. Based on the total number of nursing home residents, that translates to more than 159,000 nursing home residents with pressure ulcers (otherwise known as bed sores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure sores). Stage II pressure ulcers were the most common according to the survey. Over 35% of the nursing home residents with pressure ulcers had more advanced– stage III or stage IV ulcers that required special wound treatment. Even younger nursing home residents, those commonly thought to be somewhat removed from the problem, are at risk according to the report.
The study demonstrates that it is important to identify nursing home residents who are at risk for development of pressure ulcers and implement preventative techniques. No nursing home resident is immune from risk of developing pressure ulcers and the nursing home staff members need to be aware and always consider the factors related to pressure ulcer development and treatment.
By carefully reviewing the patient’s medical records with the assistance of impartial nurses and doctors, the bed sore lawyers at De Caro & Kaplen, LLP are able to determine if proper care was rendered.
Schedule a free, no obligation consultation with the New York personal injury attorneys at De Caro & Kaplen, LLP who can assist your loved one when a bed sore takes place. Call us toll free at 1 (866)272-4652 .