Nursing homes in New York are responsible to reposition immobile patients at least every two hours. Failure to do this can result in painful bed sores or ulcers (sometimes referred to as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) on a person’s tailbone, heels, elbows, and shoulder blades.
Bedsores, in almost all instances, are preventable if the nursing home staff implements the proper precautions and ensures that the resident receives adequate nutrition and hydration. The development and progression of an avoidable bedsore is a form of nursing home neglect.
At Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC, we are committed to holding nursing homes accountable for allowing pressure sores to develop or become infected. We have fought to protect New York accident victims for more than 40 years, and are well-prepared to help you and your family. Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Are Bedsores and How Do They Form?
Bedsores are injuries to the skin and the tissue underneath it that are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. They may also be referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. They usually form on skin that covers bony areas of the body (such as the hips or tailbone) because of the added pressure on those areas when a person is lying down.
Bedsores are classified by stages:
- Stage 1: the pressure sores only affect the upper layer of skin.
- Stage 2: means that the sore has progressed deeper below the surface of the skin. The skin will typically be broken, swollen, warm, and painful.
- Stage 3: the bedsores have gone through the second layer of skin into the fatty tissue. The sore may look infected and have a bad odor.
- Stage 4: the sores are large, deep, and may affect muscles and ligaments.
People with disabilities that limit their movement are most at risk of developing bedsores. In particular, people who spend most of their time in bed or sitting in a chair may be at higher risk of developing pressure ulcers. This is particularly common among nursing home residents, who often have disabilities or physical limitations that make it hard for them to change positions or that require them to stay in bed or in a chair for most of the day.
There are three primary causes of bedsores: friction, pressure, and shear. When there is constant pressure on a body part, it can reduce the blood flow to the tissues, which can cause the skin and nearby tissues to die. Fiction happens when skin rubs against clothing or bedding, which can make fragile skin much more vulnerable to injury. Finally, shear happens when two surfaces move in the opposite direction, such as when a person slides down on the bed when the head is elevated.
Some people are at a much higher risk of developing decubitus ulcers. This includes people who suffer from:
- Loss of sensation, which may be related to a spinal cord injury or a neurological disorder
- Poor nutrition and hydration
- Certain medical conditions that can affect blood flow, such as diabetes and heart disease
Depending on the depth and severity of a bedsore, treatment is possible. It may include cleaning and dressing the wound, removing damaged tissue, medication to control pain, repositioning, and even surgery. If left untreated or allowed to progress, however, pressure ulcers can cause a number of complications, including cellulitis, cancer, bone and joint infections, and sepsis.
Bedsores are preventable, even for patients that are largely immobile. Regularly repositioning nursing home residents or using an alternating air pressure mattress are both effective ways to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers. In addition, keeping skin clean and dry and watching for warning signs of bedsores- such as swelling, pus-like draining, and unusual changes in skin color or texture – can help to reduce the likelihood of a person developing pressure ulcers.
Can a Nursing Home Be Held Liable for Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers?
As discussed in greater detail above, bedsores are often preventable with proper care. A nursing home or assisted living facility that cares for people who are at risk of developing pressure ulcers must be vigilant to prevent, identify and treat sores. If they fail to do so, it may be an indication of nursing home neglect.
Bedsores may be a sign of nursing home neglect due to:
- Failure to move or turn residents regularly
- Failure to ensure that incontinent patients are clean and try
- Failure to notice or diagnose bedsores
- Failure to prevent worsening bedsores
- Failure to obtain proper medical treatment
These types of cases are typically based on a theory of negligence, or carelessness. To win a nursing home neglect lawsuit, you will need to show:
- The nursing home owed the resident (plaintiff) a duty of care.
- The nursing home and staff members (defendants) breached or violated their duty of care to the resident
- The breach of duty caused the bedsores to occur
- The resident suffered damages.
A nursing home neglect case may be brought against the owner of the nursing home, a management company, the corporate office, staff, and/or the administrator or executive director. Through this type of claim, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your loved one’s losses, including medical expenses, future medical treatment, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Must be Stopped
Our New York nursing home attorneys, Daniel Gallivan and Thomas Gallivan, have extensive experience in holding nursing homes responsible for abuse and neglect. We have represented families of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect that resulted in falls, bedsores, malnutrition and dehydration, and sexual and physical abuse. We will pursue the maximum amount of compensation possible for accident victims with bed sores, resulting from:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Lack of effort to regularly reposition immobile patients
- Failure to provide a pressure-relieving mattress or other pressure-relief devices
- Failure to change adult diapers and avoid moisture on the sheets
- Failure to meet the standard of care for treating pressure ulcers
Bedsores are very painful and can eventually lead to wrongful death. If bedsores become infected, sepsis and death can follow. Nursing homes must be held accountable for neglecting residents. Our attorneys have successfully represented accident victims for four decades and will help you obtain as much compensation as possible.
Fighting to Help Your Loved One
When your family member is injured or develops bedsores while living in a nursing home, you may not know what to do or where to turn for help. Our law firm is here for you. We will meet with you to discuss the lack of care, review all relevant medical records, and consult with experts.
The Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan works with individuals and families throughout New York to help them seek justice for nursing home abuse and/or neglect. Our staff includes medical professionals who can analyze your claim and provide valuable insight as to how your loved one was injured. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a New York bedsores and pressure ulcer lawyer, give us a call at 914-220-1086 or fill out our online contact form.