Nursing home residents, as well as patients who are staying at hospitals, are often supposed to remain in a sedentary position either in a bed or wheelchair as they recover or to prevent further injury. In such cases, it is imperative that the nursing staff accommodate their needs by preventing bedsores. However, due to neglect in these nursing facilities, residents develop bedsores, pressure sores, and decubitus ulcers.
What are decubitus ulcers?
Most likely you’ve heard the terms “bed sores” or “pressure sores,” but these really don’t capture what this serious medical condition is. These aren’t sores like the kind you feel after a day of walking in tight shoes or from a bad mosquito bite. These are injuries to the skin that develop over hours or days of laying in one position. The pressure from the body on the skin closes off circulation to parts of the skin. With reduced oxygen flow and nutrients, the skin becomes more prone to breaking down and forming ulcers. If the person does not move from their position or is not moved by staff members, then the skin will become injured and break, and sometimes ooze pus or blood.
Causes of Bed Sores
Bedsores are formed when residents or patients are not repositioned in order to prevent excess pressure on vulnerable points that lead to skin ulcers. Prolonged pressure is one of the most common causes of bedsores. Staff must be sure to assist the patient or resident is moving or being repositioned to alleviate pressure on their skin.
Nursing home residents can also develop bedsores when staff members move them improperly. Often elderly residents need assistance even when moving short distances, such as from a bed to a wheelchair. Their skin is very delicate and may shear if they are not moved gently.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of bedsores?
Bedsores or pressure sores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips, tailbone, and back or sides of the head. Early symptoms include unusual changes in skin color or texture and tender areas. Then it will progress to swelling, pus-like drainage, and an area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas.
What contributes to nursing home neglect?
There are a few typical reasons why these issues of neglect are common in nursing homes.
Unfortunately, when it comes to inadequate staffing in nursing homes, we are also talking about improperly or adequately trained staff. Licensed practical nurses have about a year of nursing education, and registered nurses hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have passed the required board exams. When an LPN or another staff member who is not adequately trained is asked to do the responsibilities of an RN because an LPN can be paid less, it can turn into a horrific case of negligence if that staff member does not report it.
The risk factors for the development of bedsores are well known and include items such as immobility, incontinence, poor nutrition, dehydration, and a host of other conditions. Too often, nursing homes and their owners fail to allocate enough resources to properly train their staff to recognize these risks for bed sores and take appropriate action.
Operators of skilled nursing facilities want to save money, and they do that by offering low pay. Working in any healthcare setting is a very stressful job, and the stress combined with low pay also leads to high staff turnover.
How The Rooth Law Firm Can Help
At The Rooth Law Firm, we have a team of attorneys and a nurse that are experienced and well-versed in handling all sorts of nursing home abuse and neglect cases. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee unless we win. Our investigation of these cases will typically include consultations with outside medical experts. When we file a lawsuit, we will aggressively pursue your rights to obtain fair and just recovery, whether through trial or settlement.
At The Rooth Law Firm, we understand the broken trust that has occurred when a loved one is injured in a nursing home. With compassion, integrity, and professionalism, we seek to obtain justice for the nursing home’s failure to fulfill its duty to keep your loved one safe and free from harm. Give us a call at The Rooth Law Firm, we’re here for you!