Law Firm for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores are damage to the skin and tissue that result from long periods of applied pressure. They have a tendency to form in areas where bones are close to the skin. Patients who lack the ability to move or reposition themselves are much more susceptible to bedsores, and that includes residents in a skilled nursing facility. It’s the duty of nursing home staff to check patients for bedsores, move them when necessary, and treat any sores that do show up, so they don’t risk infection.
Bedsores can form quickly and require treatment to heal. Some of the common indicators include changes in the color of the skin, fluid drainage, and a feeling of tenderness.
How Do Bedsores Happen?
Patients who are bound to a wheelchair or bed have an increased likelihood of developing pressure sores. They are commonly seen on the tailbone, buttocks, head, shoulders, heels, and ankles. The three most common causes of bedsores are:
- Pressure: When pressure is consistently applied to an area of the body, it hinders the flow of blood to the area, thus creating damage from a lack of oxygen and other nutrients.
- Friction: When the skin rubs against clothes or bedding material, if the skin is already fragile, that increases the likelihood of bedsores.
- Shear: When two surfaces shift in opposite directions – this happens with patients in elevated beds, which create a natural tendency for the body to shift downward, causing the skin to rub over bone and creating bedsores.
The key to preventing bedsores is simply moving patients at regular intervals, not allowing that slight pressure of bony areas to build up for hours or days without relief. For example, patients who sit in chairs should be repositioned by nursing home staff every hour, and reminded to reposition themselves in between when possible. Those in bed should be repositioned at least every two hours. Each resident should have his or her skin briefly inspected for potential signs of sores once daily. When sores are detected early, a remedy is much more likely to be effective.
Patients who sit in wheelchairs for long periods of time should be removed from the chair at least every eight hours. These people should be alternated to two or three different styles of seating each day. Devices that are composed of foam or gel may be capable of reducing friction with the skin, and should be used in nursing home-provided beds and chairs.
Defining Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
In Missouri, the Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) is tasked with following up on allegations of poor treatment in nursing homes. The statutory definition of abuse is when an individual is subjected to injuries or harm that is physical, sexual, emotional, or financial in nature. Neglect occurs when an individual who has a legal or contractual duty to provide care for someone fails to do so. The neglect may create conditions that are hazardous to the safety, health, or well-being of the patient. Failing to keep a patient from developing bedsores could count as neglect, and increase the likelihood of injury and death in a fragile elderly patient.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 15,600 U.S nursing homes, and a total of over 1.7 million beds licensed. In Missouri, about 14% of the population is 65 or older, and over 120,000 residents are over the age of 85. Between now and 2030, it is estimated that the number of adults over 85 will grow by 48%; this age group represents those who are likely to need long-term care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services analyze, investigate, compile data, and generate reports about the performance of long-term care providers. Their findings showed that only 33% of Missouri’s nursing homes were considered above average or better.
Lawyers for Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Some members of our community depend on care from others, and that makes them vulnerable to developing bedsores. If your loved one has been a victim of mistreatment in a long-term care facility, your family may be entitled to compensation. The Kansas City nursing home abuse attorneys at Norton & Spencer, P.C. have been defending the rights of victims of elder abuse and neglect since 1952. Contact the office today at 816-454-5800 for a free consultation.