Our office successfully recovered $155,000 for decubitus ulcers of nursing home resident.
Decubitus ulcers, or bedsores, result from prolonged pressure that cuts off the blood supply to the skin, causing the skin and other tissue to die. The damage may occur in as little time as 12 hours of pressure, but it might not be noticed until days later when the skin begins to break down. The skin is especially likely to develop pressure sores if it is exposed to rubbing (friction) and moving the skin in one direction and the body in another (shear), as in sliding down when the bed head is raised. Dampness (such as from perspiration or incontinence) makes the skin even more liable to develop pressure sores.
Nursing home residents that are immobile are at the greatest risk of getting bedsores. This includes nursing home residents who are recovering from strokes, spinal cord injuries, nerve disorders, mental disorders, paralysis, and generally immobile residents. Most decubitus ulcers occur in the elderly, those over the age of 70.
Nursing home residents who do not get good nutrition (malnourished or undernourished), have incontinence (problems with bladder or bowel control), diabetes, or problems with blood flow (circulation) also have increased risk.
A decubitus ulcer appears first as a reddened area of skin, which then starts to break down to form an open, raw, oozing wound.
Bedsores occur at areas of abnormal pressure on the body. If the nursing home resident is sitting for a long time, this is usually the tailbone (coccyx) or buttocks area, shoulder blades, spine, or backs of the arms or legs. If the nursing home resident is in bed for a long time, they may occur on the back of the head, ears, shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, or the backs or sides of the knees, elbows, ankles, or toes.
Decubitus ulcers occur in four stages. Stage 1 has unbroken, but pink or ashen (in darker skin) discoloration with perhaps slight itch or tenderness. Stage 2 has red, swollen skin with a blister or open areas. Stage 3 has a crater-like ulcer extending deeper into the skin. Stage 4 extends to deep fat, muscle, or bone and may have a thick black scab.
You should know that many times decubitus ulcers are the result of malpractice by the nursing home. Malpractice can take many forms, such as failure to properly monitor the resident, or follow physicians orders regarding turning the patient on a regular schedule, or inadequate nutrition, or keeping the resident clean and dry. The list goes on and on.
Once you begin to suspect malpractice by the nursing home, you must now prove it. Suspecting there is nursing home malpractice and proving it are two entirely different concepts. The medical records will show excellent care provided to the resident. The records will show faithful and timely bed turning, adherence to scrupulous medication schedules, excellent feeding and nutrition, constant supervision, and appropriate and attentive care. The nursing home will provide other reasons for the decline in the health of the resident. The resident has prior medical conditions. The resident is old. The resident refuses to eat. The resident is uncooperative. The resident was not careful. The list goes on and on.
If your loved one has decubitus ulcers (i.e. bed sores), or you believe your loved one may be a victim of nursing home malpractice, call our office immediately. THE LAW OFFICE OF CHARLES J. GALE has over thirty years of experience in prosecuting claims of nursing home malpractice. Call (312) 372-0300. There is no fee for the consultation. There is no fee at all unless we win and we recover.