Once your family member has been admitted to a Nursing Home, it’s important that you participate in monitoring their condition. Ignoring or downplaying complaints about itching or soreness can mean that medical problems such as bedsores might be overlooked while still in their early, most easily treatable stages.
What is a Bedsore?
A bedsore is a condition caused by pressure on the skin from being in one position for a prolonged period of time. This happens in such instances as prolonged lying in bed, wearing a cast, or sitting in a wheelchair. Other names for bedsores are pressure injuries, pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers.
Signs to Watch For
The first sign of a bedsore will be a reddening of the skin on the person’s buttocks, hips, knees, or shoulder blades. The back of the head and heels are also vulnerable areas to monitor. The reddening is the first warning that the blood supply to the skin is being cut off for more than 2 to 3 hours and has begun to die. If bedsores aren’t treated, the skin can break open and infection can set in.
To best care for your loved ones, ask them questions about their care. If they have mobility issues, a staff member should be turning them in bed every 2 hours. Ask if they’re eating the food. Lack of proper nutrition is a contributing factor in bedsores. Diabetics and people with circulation problems are patients with the highest risk of developing bedsores.
If your family member has an open sore, scrape, or blister, this is a sign that the bedsore is getting worse. At this point, the person will be complaining about being in a significant amount of pain. The skin around the wound may be discolored.
Should a Doctor be Involved?
The patient’s doctor should be involved at this point, if not sooner. The patient will need wound care, debridement, or removal, of any dead tissue around the wound, and medication. In some cases, skin grafts can become necessary. Staff should be documenting the size and depth of the wound and the patient’s response to treatment. Any bandages should be getting changed regularly.
A bedsore that is ignored or not treated properly can progress by digging into the skin and eventually involve muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. This last stage makes the patient especially vulnerable to infection. Bedsores are considered one of the most painful and inhumane wounds suffered by nursing home patients.
Average Instance of Bedsores
A good quality facility should have a bedsore instance of not much more than 2% of its patients. Lesser quality facilities may have a bedsore rate as high as 25%. Bedsores aren’t limited to nursing homes. Other types of care facilities, such as a rehab facility, also experience them when staff is not attentive enough.
It’s important to note here that developing a bedsore is not “just a part of the aging process.” Bedsores develop as a result of the negligence of nursing homes or other care facility staff.
Negligent care resulting in bedsore cases are a large portion of lawsuits brought against nursing homes. If your case rises to the level of having to have a lawyer involved, you’ll want to go in understanding that a large number of these cases end up settling out of court. Cases that are brought to trial often involve punitive damages. Juries have been known to award large amounts for these cases.
A typical bedsore case will first require that you prove there was negligence on the part of the care facility. Then you must prove that the facility failed to provide the required standard of care.
What Type of Award Can I Expect?
Awards generally involve a combination of monetary and non-monetary compensation, such as specialized medical equipment. Punitive damages involve such things as pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, disability, and emotional damage.
What Length of Time Am am I Looking At?
Keep in mind that it takes time to prepare for a trial. You’re looking at an average of from 18 months to 2 years. Your family member will require intensive, ongoing care during this period of time.
No one wants to have to send a family member to a nursing home, but sometimes there is no other solution available. Once your relative has been admitted, it’s important for them to have you visit regularly and monitor their condition. Asking questions and getting involved can help prevent injuries such as bedsores from happening to your family member.