Kansas City Nursing Home Bedsore Lawyer
When you leave a loved one in the care of a nursing care facility, you trust that he or she will be in safe hands and will be well cared for. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Our Kansas City nursing home lawyer knows this firsthand from the stories of our clients and their families.
Many nursing homes provide superior care for residents, many of whom will spend their last days there. But other nursing homes fail to meet the standard of care required of them, whether by ignoring safety guidelines, having inadequate staffing levels, or allowing neglect or abuse to take place. All of this can result in serious injuries, medical complications or even death. One example is bedsores. Bedsores are painful and preventable conditions that often indicate neglect and/or abuse.
What Are Bedsores?
Lack of care and failing to turn a bed-bound or chair-bound patient properly causes residents to needlessly suffer with bedsores (also called pressure ulcers.) These sores develop over time and result from pressure placed on specific parts of the body for an extended period. Without movement, there is no blood flow, the skin becomes irritated, and it eventually causes the skin to wear thin and open. These sores can extend past the skin to tendons, muscles and bones. Left untreated, bedsores become infected and turn septic, which can also result in death over the long term.
Because the skin becomes more fragile and susceptible to damage, bedsores usually develop in places like the:
- Back of the head
- Lower back
- Buttocks, tailbone or coccyx
- In between ankles and knees (from laying on side)
- Shoulder blades
These areas receive prolonged, constant pressure from a patient not moving or being moved while in bed, or rubbing against a surface for a long time. Patients who spend a lot of time in wheelchairs without removing their footwear can also develop these sores on their feet, ankles and heels.
Bedsores are evidence of a patient who isn’t being moved at all, and are usually the result of a nursing home’s under-staffing, or neglect by the staff they do have. Pressure ulcers can also develop in patients who are being improperly restrained, particularly if they are restrained for long periods.
Bedsore Risk Factors
Older patients have an increased risk of bedsores because of their decreased circulation and thinner skin. Their skin has less elasticity and less subcutaneous fat, which provides padding on pressure points. Because of the higher risk of skin injuries, bedsores and pressure ulcers develop due to:
- Poor nutrition and dehydration, particularly with patients who are unable to feed themselves. Dehydration can cause symptoms to develop rapidly, including skin degrading
- Underweight, which reduces their body’s own protection from pressure ulcers developing
- Limited mobility, particularly those in wheelchairs and bed-bound
- Friction caused by improper turning
- Incontinence, along with unattended unhygienic conditions and wetness that can irritate skin
- Incorrect positioning, which can lead to a patient sliding downward in a chair or a bed
- Other medical conditions that can affect the skin, immune system and circulation
Four Stages Of Bedsores
- Stage I,where redness and edema begin, and infection can begin to set in. The skin may feel itchy, or you may feel pain and burning. The skin may not lighten when you press it, and may feel warmer or cooler, firmer or softer. Treatment at this stage is best, where damage can be prevented or reduced. Remove the pressure that is wearing through the skin. Move around, use a foam pillow, pad or mattress to allow blood to flow through the skin again.
- Stage II, where skin begins to decay, and the top and secondary layers are damaged. It is either an open wound or a fluid-filled blister, and there is significant skin damage.
- Stage III, where the open wound deepens into the subcutaneous fat layer below the skin, and extend below and beyond the healthy layers of skin
- Stage IV, where the damage and open skin extend to bone, muscle or tendon, dead skin is visible, and may be covered by yellow or black dead skin that is not scar tissue
Bedsores are always a cause for alarm, even in Stage I. Once the bedsore becomes black, it is considered “unstageable,” and becomes a deep tissue injury that requires surgical intervention to repair and heal.
Complications from Bedsores
Complications from bedsores can be life threatening if left untreated, leading to:
- Cellulitis—a skin infection that can also affect soft tissues, and creates symptoms of edema—swelling, redness and warmth or heat.
- Infections in the bones and joints—these can “burrow” causing septic arthritis, which can damage tissue and cartilage, and osteomyelitis, which can diminish the functions of limbs and joints.
- Sepsis —a serious condition caused by harmful infection in the blood or other tissues and the body’s adverse reaction, which can lead to the malfunctioning of various organs, shock, and even death/
- Cancer—wounds that fail to heal can turn into squamous cell carcinoma.
- Amputation of an affected limb, such as one's upper or lower extremities.
- Death—the worst possible outcome, which is unfortunately all too common.
WebMD has a guide to bedsores that explains each stage and their treatments. Stage I and II are easy and heal with days or weeks. Stage III and IV wounds are serious, need immediate attention by a physician, and may take months or years to completely heal. Once healed, pressure should not be put back on the area for some time, and supportive devices should be deployed to prevent a re-occurrence.
Bedsores Are Preventable
Treating bedsores is a lot more difficult than preventing them. Regular assistance with turning, dressing, bathing, and other hygiene allow blood to flow freely and keep friction from damaging the skin from the inside out in bony areas. Foam or gel devices can be used to lift the patient’s pressure points off the surface of chairs, mattresses or other fixtures.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes are severely understaffed, leaving patients without adequate care. The main reason nursing home patients develop these bedsores is neglect due to a lack of staff to ensure that every patient is properly cared for, including turning and treatment for bedsores.
If you see evidence of bedsores, it’s imperative to makes sure your loved one gets treatment immediately, and you seek legal representation before they get worse. Don’t wait until it becomes a painful Stage IV. The time to get legal help is now, before everything gets worse.
Do Bedsores Indicate Nursing Home Neglect?
In nearly all cases, bedsores are a sign of neglect by the nursing home. Whether from inadequate numbers of carers, untrained or unscreened staff, bedsores mean that a nursing home resident isn’t being properly turned, treated and cared for.
Stage III or Stage IV bedsores indicate long-term neglect that has developed over a long period of time.
Should You Hire A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
Close involvement by the family is a strong factor in the quality of care that a resident receives, so it’s important to visit often and pay attention. As a rule, children or close relatives are the people who should be responsible for the care and oversight of a loved one in a nursing home.
Some guardians who are not related tend to dismiss claims by the resident of abuse or neglect. It’s important to take any allegations of neglect or abuse from your loved one seriously, even if everything looks to be fine, or he or she has a history of mental illness.
If your loved one is experiencing bedsores that aren’t healing, infections from these sores, or if you see other signs of neglect or abuse, contact a Kansas City nursing home abuse attorney immediately.
Pursuing a Case Against a Kansas City Nursing Home
Nursing homes have a responsibility to watch and sustain the health of their residents, and have a medical team involved in their care. If caregivers and the medical team fail to provide a patient with necessary care, the nursing home may be liable for their employees’ actions. Because the team failed to provide care that could have prevented bedsores, they caused harm to the patient, and caused him or her to suffer.
Missouri’s Department of Department of Health & Senior Services is required to follow up on allegations of neglect and/or abuse in nursing homes. Failing to prevent the patient’s bedsores is considered neglect, since they increase the patient’s chances of infection, injury and death.
Once you see signs of neglect, begin gathering as much evidence as you can. Take pictures of the nursing home, of your loved one’s injuries, their clothes, bed or other important pieces of evidence. Review their medical chart, which the home is required to provide to you. Your attorney will be able to use this evidence to build your case.
You can also contact the National Center on Elder Abuse for additional information and advice for reporting neglect.
A nursing home attorney will also gather additional evidence, such as hospital and other medical records, and speak with physicians and other staff to discover additional information. Once the investigation is completed, he or she can advise you what steps you should take next, including whether to file a lawsuit.
Let Our Kansas City Nursing Home Lawyer Help You
Are you seeing red spots, bedsores or pressure ulcers on your loved one when you visit him or her at a nursing home? Have you had trouble getting answers from the nursing home’s medical staff about his or her condition? If your loved one became ill or died in a Kansas City nursing home from bedsores, please get help from an experienced nursing home injury lawyer.
These cases are too complicated to handle on your own, and you will need someone in your corner to guide you through the process. Our Kansas City nursing home lawyer understands that bedsores—and any type of nursing home neglect—are serious legal matters.
Our Kansas City nursing home abuse law firm is ready to fight for your loved one and the rights of all of our most vulnerable citizens. Contact us today at 816-203-0143 to schedule an appointment. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to help you get justice for your loved one. There are strict deadlines that apply to nursing home lawsuits, so please contact us today.