San Antonio Bedsore Lawyers
Top-Notch Bedsore Lawyers in San Antonio, TX
When you send an elderly loved one to a nursing home, you want to trust that the staff will provide a peaceful, safe, and healthy environment for them. After all, they’ve lived a long, wonderful life and they deserve proper medical care and relaxation in their final years. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality. Many nursing home residents end up suffering from neglect and abuse instead. Some elder abuse inevitably leads to bedsores in nursing homes, which falls under the legal theories of personal injury and medical malpractice.
If someone you love is suffering from nursing home bedsores, you need bedsore lawyers from our law firm on your side. At Janicek Law, we are passionate about defending the defenseless in nursing homes. We want to make sure that all nursing home patients receive the medical care they deserve, and sometimes that begins with a bed sore lawsuit. Call us today at 210-366-4949 today for a free consultation.
What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores. These painful injuries are the most common among elderly people and can be an indication of nursing home abuse.
How Do Bedsores Happen?
Bedsores occur when elderly or disabled people lay in one position for too long. That’s because laying in one position for more than three hours can cut off blood flow to the skin. Without adequate blood flow, the skin tissue begins to die, therefore creating a pressure ulcer. For example, if a bedbound person lays on their back for more than three hours every day, they could begin developing bedsores on their tailbone, elbows, shoulders, back of the head, etc.
Stages of Bedsores
There are four stages of pressure sores, ranging from minor to life-threatening.
- Stage 1 is the most minor pressure sore. In this stage, the skin will likely be discolored, warm, and itchy.
- Stage 2 is when the pressure sore begins to turn into an open wound. The patient may experience bleeding and discolored skin around the wound.
- Stage 3: The underlying tissue begins to sustain damage, which may make the sore look like a crater.
- Stage 4 is when a serious infection occurs. At this point, patients may be able to see underlying tendons, muscles, and bones.
The symptoms associated with stage 1 or 2 bed sores are:
- Skin tenderness
- Skin that appears red or purple
- Pus or drainage around the wound
- Skin that feels warmer to the touch than other areas of the body
Meanwhile, the symptoms of stage 3 or 4 bed sores are generally much more debilitating. They include:
- Serious pain around the pressure ulcer
- A wound that looks like a crater
- Pus or drainage
- Visible muscles, tendons, or bones
How Common Are Bedsores in Nursing Homes?
Bed sores are incredibly common among nursing home residents. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) claims that more than 1 in 10 residents experienced bed sores in their 2004 study. Also according to this study, stage 2 pressure ulcers were the most common among residents and 35% of sufferers required treatment from a wound care team.
Meanwhile, the American College of Physicians (ACP) claimed in 2015 that more than 3 million Americans experience decubitus ulcers annually in both nursing homes and hospitals. Those who can’t move around on their own are at high risk.
How Are Bedsores a Sign of Nursing Home Abuse?
A pressure ulcer may sound like an ordinary injury that comes with old age to some. But in reality, pressure ulcers can indicate nursing home neglect and abuse.
If nursing home patients are bedbound or disabled for any reason, the staff is required to make sure they’re safe, comfortable, and healthy. That means they need to help nursing home residents use the bathroom, change positions every few hours, bathe, eat, etc. If assisted living facility staff notices the beginnings of a pressure sore (or any other health condition), they must take care of it immediately.
Allowing an elderly person to lay in the same position all day while also allowing their pressure sores to progress to stages 3 or 4 is extremely neglectful.
Risk Factors for Bedsores
Some patients are more at risk of developing bed sores than others. Patients who are immobile or disabled are often unable to change positions in bed by themselves. Therefore, they have an increased risk of this issue.
Patients who suffer from urinary or bowel incontinence also have an increased risk of developing bed sores because the skin frequently comes into contact with the bacteria from human waste. The combination of both immobility and incontinence can be incredibly dangerous, especially for elderly patients.
Patients who suffer from a lack of sensory perception due to spinal cord injuries, for example, may not feel discomfort or pain from laying in the same position. Therefore, they may not know when it’s time to change positions which can lead to decubitus ulcers.
In order to have healthy skin, you have to eat a nutritious diet and stay hydrated. Unfortunately, many nursing home patients don’t receive adequate nutrition or hydration for a variety of reasons: medical conditions that affect appetite or digestion, neglect, living in an underfunded nursing home that can’t afford healthy food, etc. These factors certainly raise the risk of bed sores.
Lastly, health conditions that prevent adequate blood flow throughout the body can increase someone’s risk of experiencing bed sores.
Can You Die From Bedsores?
Yes, it’s very possible for someone to die from a pressure ulcer, especially when it reaches stage 3 or 4. In those stages, it’s generally the infection that leads to death.
Annual U.S. Deaths Caused by Bedsores
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) claims that upwards of 60,000 Americans die from bedsores every year. If your loved one lost their life due to a nursing home bed sore, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit, especially if:
- The nursing home staff should have prevented the bed sore,
- The nursing staff could have treated the bed sore before it reached stage 3 or 4,
- And there is enough proof to tie the death to the bed sore.
How to Treat Bedsores
The best pressure ulcer treatment is simply relieving pressure from the affected area. In other words, helping the patient change positions frequently is the best and most effective course of treatment. Other treatments include:
- Keeping the skin clean in order to prevent serious infection
- Applying antimicrobial and hydrocolloid dressings to the wounds, which also keeps them clean
- Applying antibacterial creams to the wounds in order to promote healing and prevent infection
- Removing dead or damaged tissue with a water jet or surgical tools in order to expedite the healing process
- Changing bedding to static foam mattresses which can promote better blood circulation
- Taking antibiotics in order to prevent infection
- Providing a nutritious diet in order to promote overall good health
How to Prevent Bedsores
Bed sore prevention is key, especially for nursing home residents who struggle to move and function on their own. In order to prevent bed sores, it’s crucial for the staff at assisted living facilities to:
- Help their patients change position every few hours
- Thoroughly check their patient’s skin every day
- Keep their patient’s skin clean and dry
- Provide nutritious meals every day
- Prevent patients from smoking, which can negatively impact blood flow to the skin
- Help their patients exercise every day to improve circulation (even if that means teaching patients how to do exercises from their beds)
Why Should I File a Bedsore Lawsuit?
As previously stated, nursing home bedsores are often a sign of elder abuse which is why many families press charges against negligent facilities.
Severe bedsores (stage 3 or 4) are unacceptable and should never happen according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In fact, the agency includes stage 3 and stage 4 bed sores on a list of “never events.” This means that while minor bedsores aren’t always preventable, severe bedsores certainly are. Therefore, they should never happen. Medical bills associated with health conditions included on this “never list” aren’t covered by Medicaid.
Proving Negligence in Bedsore Cases
If you want to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit on behalf of your loved one, it’s not enough to just claim they developed a pressure wound at their nursing facility. Similar to many other personal injury cases, proving nursing home bedsores requires proof of the four elements of negligence.
- Duty of Care: All medical providers, including nursing home staff members, owe a certain standard of care to all their patients.
- Breached Duty of Care: The nursing home failed to provide adequate care to their patient. In other words, they breached the required duty of care by allowing a patient to develop one or more pressure sores.
- Causation: The patient developed bed sores as a direct result of the nursing home’s breached duty of care.
- Damages: A serious pressure ulcer caused the patient to suffer many damages which the negligent nursing home should compensate them for.
Call Bedsore Lawyers at Janicek Law Today
Families generally place their elderly loved ones in nursing homes because they believe it’s the safest and least stressful option for everyone. The last thing anyone wants is for their elderly loved ones’ physical and emotional health to suffer even more than it was before receiving 24/7 care. What makes nursing home abuse even worse is that elders are often extremely vulnerable and defenseless. That’s why bed sore lawyers at Janicek Law are so passionate about fighting for the rights and justice of abused elders. Our law firm takes bedsores in nursing homes very seriously, so we’ll help you fight for the financial compensation your loved one deserves.
We’re ready to start an attorney-client relationship with you today. Call 210-366-4949 for a free consultation.