Bedsore Law FAQ
Americans over 65 years of age make up the fastest-growing population in our country. Many in this age bracket have decreased mobility and need assistance with moving and activities of daily living, putting them at an increased risk for many health issues, including bedsores, also known as pressure or decubitus ulcers. And it’s not just older adults who are at risk; anyone with decreased mobility due to illness or injury can develop bedsores if they do not receive proper care.
Bedsores a serious injury – they often take a long time to heal, and treatment is expensive, with an estimated $11 billion dollars spent on pressure ulcers each year in the United States alone. In fact, a single bedsore can come with a price tag of $500 to $70,000.
If you have a loved one who has developed bedsores while in the care of healthcare professionals, you likely have many questions and concerns. Our goal is to help you understand how their bedsore could have developed, what legal rights exist for you and your family member, and to present you with your options. A New York City bedsore lawyer could help you and your neglected family member recover compensation for the damages that occurred.
What are Bedsores?
A bedsore develops when there is pressure on one area of skin frequently or for a long period of time. These wounds are most frequently found on bony areas of the body such as the:
- Shoulder blades
- Back or side of the head
- Behind the knees
When pressure against the skin stops or limits blood flow to a specific area, bedsores can develop. The skin and underlying tissues rely on oxygen and nutrients that are delivered through the blood. When they are not receiving oxygen and nutrients, skin and other nearby tissues are at risk for damage to may begin to die.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Neglect?
When you place a family member in a nursing home, it is typically not an easy decision. You likely took comfort in the fact that they would be cared for around the clock. You did not anticipate that they would be abused or neglected in such a facility, but now you are faced with this difficult reality.
Each patient is different when it comes to how their bedsores developed and whether they were a sign of neglect. However, due to the nature of how bedsores develop, when a person is immobile and relies on hospital or nursing home staff for their basic needs, a bedsore can often be a sign of neglect. Bedsores are preventable, especially ones that have reached later stages. They are one of the most common avoidable injuries in nursing homes.
Nursing homes and hospitals have protocols on how often patients should be turned and repositioned; usually, every one to two hours. They also have protocols and regulations about performing regular skin inspections. Early signs of bedsore development should be noted, and staff should act accordingly to prevent further skin breakdown. The nursing staff has various devices and tools available to them to help prevent bedsores in areas that are beginning to look irritated or red. When they suspect that a resident or patient may be in the beginning stages of developing a bedsore, there is still time to take action and prevent a pressure ulcer.
When staff members fail to move or turn a patient, to perform diligent and thorough skin inspections, or use the equipment and tools at their disposal, their neglect can lead to a pressure ulcer for your loved one.
What Are Other Forms of Neglect in Health Care Facilities?
Although they are common, a New York City bedsore lawyer can tell you that bedsores are not the only form of abuse or neglect within a healthcare facility. Other forms of abuse or neglect in a hospital or a nursing care facility include:
- Inadequate wound care leading to infections
- Dehydration, malnutrition, and failure to provide sufficient quantities of food
- Over or improper medication
- Lack of supervision due to their immobility from bedsores, leading to falls
- Poor hygiene
Why Are Some People at Greater Risk for Bedsores?
A bedsore can happen to anyone who lays or sits in one place for too long or too frequently. Older adults are least likely to be able to move and reposition themselves, putting them at high risk for developing these painful pressure ulcers. They rely upon trained, certified, and licensed staff to provide them with their needs, which usually include some or full assistance with moving.
For many different reasons, none of which are excusable, nursing home staff struggle to be able to do this in some facilities. It could be a lack of training, lack of compassion, lack of adequate staff, or that they simply are too busy and do not care. No matter the reason, a bedsore attorney in New York City could help you file your case and seek justice for you or your family member.
People with mobility problems also have other risk factors that can contribute to developing bedsores, such as:
- Poor nutrition
- Thin skin
- Bladder and bowel incontinence
- Decreased ability to feel pain
Can Bedsores Cause Further Complications?
For some nursing home residents or hospital patients, bedsores are just not just a sign of neglect, but also the beginning of a cascade of medical problems. If not treated soon enough, bedsores can cause an infection of the skin and soft tissues known as cellulitis. The infection can also travel to the bone and joints, causing severe pain and reduced movement and function. In some elderly people, a skin ulcer can lead to a systemic infection or sepsis. For others, a bedsore can turn into cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Reach Out to a New York City Bedsore Lawyer Today for Help
More often than not, bedsores are personal injuries that deserve compensation. Under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules § 214, personal injury victims have three years from the date of their injury to file a legal claim. If the bedsore case is not filed within this strict deadline, you and your family member are not likely to receive any compensation for your damages, such as pain and suffering and medical bills. Call Sinel & Olesen, PLLC today at 212-465-1000, or complete an online case evaluation form to have our office reach out to you.