Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers, known by many people as “bedsores,” are usually a preventable injury that occurs all too often in nursing homes. A pressure ulcer is an injury to skin and underlying tissue that results from prolonged pressure on one area of the body.
Who Is At Risk?
The elderly, especially those who have limited ability to reposition themselves, are most at risk for pressure ulcers. When someone is in a nursing home bed in the same position for too long, the skin and tissue in the area where the patient’s center of gravity rests begins to lose circulation. If the circulation deprivation is long enough, the skin and tissue will begin to deteriorate and die.
Stages of Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers are classified in stages. Stage 1 is the least severe and Stage 4 being the most severe. However, many ulcers become unstageable. Medical professionals use a variety of factors to determine the stage of the pressure ulcer, including color of the skin, temperature of the skin, blanching, skin loss, and odor. To read more about the stages of pressure ulcers, read the National Library of Medicine’s table of pressure ulcer injuries.
Complications from Pressure Ulcers
The most common areas that pressure ulcers develop are around bony prominences such as the tailbone. Pressure ulcers on the tailbone are called sacral decubitus ulcers. If pressure ulcers are not treated appropriately, then the ulcer can become infected. Sacral ulcers are especially prone to become infected if the patient is unable to control their bladder or bowels. If the infection is not treated, it can lead to a dangerous condition called osteomyelitis or even death.
Medical Treatment Available
The appropriate treatment for a pressure ulcer depends on the stage of the ulcer and the underlying medical conditions of the patient. Different treatment options include:
- pressure reducing mattress and/or cushion
- adding more protein to the diet
- debridement (surgical removement of dead tissue)
- surgical intervention
- wound vac
If your loved one has a pressure ulcer, make sure they are assed by a medical professional who has experience with these injuries.
Alabama Laws About Pressure Ulcers
In lawsuits against Alabama nursing homes, the injured party must show that the nursing home:
1) failed to meet the standard of care; and
2) the failure to meet the standard of care caused injury or death.
Generally speaking, the standard of care requires that nursing home employees reposition immobile patients every two hours. If the nursing home does not do this and a pressure ulcer develops, then the nursing home is culpable of nursing home neglect.
Compensation for Pressure Ulcers
The type of compensation for a pressure ulcer depends on a variety of factors. First, if a person dies due to a pressure ulcer caused by nursing home neglect, then the sole remedy is a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate of the deceased can seek punitive damages. You can read more about wrongful death lawsuits in our article Everything to Know About Wrongful Death in Alabama.
If the person survives the pressure ulcer, then the patient can seek compensatory damages. This includes medical bills, pain, and mental anguish. It could also include compensation for permanent injury and disfigurement if the pressure ulcer does not heal. To learn of the potential compensation available, read our article about types of “damages.”
If you believe your loved one has suffered from a preventable pressure ulcer due to nursing home negligence, please allow our attorneys to review the matter. Before reaching out to us, you can read more about How Nursing Home Lawyers Are Paid.