For so many nursing homes and elder care facilities understaffing results in substandard care. Caretakers are simply spread too thin, with too many residents to attend too. For residents with or without mobility issues, inattention to nutrition and other medical needs can damage skin and soft tissues through pressure and shear.

What causes bedsores in assisted care residents?

bedsores from nursing home

Pressure injuries result from decreased blood flow to skin tissue due to continued pressure. The pressure restricts access to nutrients and oxygen, causing tissue death. This is also referred to as a pressure ulcer, bedsore or decubitus ulcer.

The low back (coccyx and sacrum) and back of the heels are areas often subject to pressure during bedrest, but any area of the body can suffer from restricted blood flow if subjected to too much pressure for too long. A resident lying on her side may develop bedsores on her lower hips (more specifically, on the trochanters, where the bone in the upper part of the leg approaches the skin’s surface). A wheelchair-bound resident may experience skin breakdown on the bottom of the heels or the lower part of the hips (ischium).

Shearing injuries typically follow repeated movements that tend to pull the skin away from underlying tissues. The sliding of a bedpan under a patient, or continued slouching along the seat of a wheelchair could cause a shearing type of bedsore/pressure injury.

When are bedsores and injuries products of nursing home neglect or negligence?

For-profit long term care facilities generally receive Medicare and Medicaid funds and so must follow CMS regulations spelled out in 42 C.F.R. sections 483.1-483.95. The regulations require an initial assessment of a patient’s individual pressure ulcer risk factors as well as a plan to both intervene and monitor the effectiveness of the plan over time. Nursing homes can fail to assess risks, fail to intervene appropriately if a bedsore develops, or in the worst cases, some combination of both.

In cases where an elder care facility fails in these practices and thereby causes or exacerbates pressure or shearing injuries, they have acted negligently and could be held financially responsible for medical expenses and for pain and suffering.

Is a legal claim against a negligent nursing home worth it?

One could argue that bedsores aren’t particularly dangerous or debilitating, that they can heal properly with medical intervention, that they aren’t as bad as a broken arm or leg etc. And so, the argument goes, why would a negligence claim involving a pressure injury be worth an attorney’s time, or the family’s emotional energy?

Large nursing home corporations certainly hope that you will believe this, but an elder care attorney can explain the real value of your loved one’s negligence claim. Long term care residents deserve quality medical care and a dignified existence. Skin injuries from substandard care reveal a level of elder abuse, even if the abuse is not fatal.

Bedsores are, if nothing else, painful, ugly and malodorous. A jury who hears that an elderly person was ignored, improperly assessed or otherwise mistreated may view an unsightly pressure ulcer with revulsion, resulting in an eagerness to hold the negligent nursing home accountable for the harm they have caused.

How can a lawyer help my parent or loved one injured in a nursing home?

Like most large corporations, elder care facilities generally understand one thing: financial consequences. The threat of a trial by jury–where a panel of everyday people will hear about the mistreatment of your loved one–makes cause for concern. A law firm with competent staff, legal experience and a passion for fighting elder abuse can collect documents and data about a facility and prepare for a trial to hold them responsible.

If you feel that someone you love suffered from a preventable bedsore or skin pressure injury, please contact Atkinson Law for a free consultation here in Norfolk, Portsmouth and all of Hampton Roads. It costs nothing and may put your worries to rest if nothing else!