Nursing Home Wound Care Negligence
Nursing home negligence and abuse has been a pervasive problem in the US with every state experiencing problems with its elderly and senior care centers. Though nursing homes are heavily regulated by state and federal laws, the problem persists with the most common cause being serious understaffing or lack of training. Because so many senior residents are too feeble or are largely ignored by relatives, many problems go unreported. One of the more serious problems is wound care since many aged residents develop bedsores from lack of attention, poor hygiene or other improper care that can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions. In instances like these, a nursing home negligence attorney should be consulted to see if compensation is warranted.
As we age, our bodies’ ability to regenerate our skin diminishes so that even the most minor wounds demand care. If the patient is diabetic or has some other health issue, the need to monitor the resident and to immediately treat a skin condition becomes even more urgent. Bedsores are all too common among nursing home residents, many of whom are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs.
Constant friction and unrelieved pressure are the main reasons for developing bedsores. However, anytime an elderly person falls or suffers a cut, a wound can appear that may not heal easily without medical intervention. Even minimal movement for some residents can tear the skin or result in a wound that needs to be checked. Most bedsores occur in these bodily areas:
- Back and sides of the head
- Lower back
- Shoulders and shoulder blades
- Back of the arms and legs
Staff and family members should be cognizant of the four stages of bedsores and to take immediate action once these begin to develop. Any resident who is confined to a wheelchair or who spends much of the day in bed must be constantly monitored and checked for sores and open wounds.
The stages of a bedsore consist of the following:
- Stage One: This may be difficult to detect. A patient may complain of pain or heat in a particular area though there may or may not be any redness or change in skin color. Sometimes, a bluish pattern may appear.
- Stage Two: This appears as an open wound or may look fluid-filled. The site is likely infected and there is loss of skin.
- Stage Three: There is the appearance of fat around the infected area and the open wound will resemble a crater. Healthy skin can be affected and be deep penetrating along with possible necrosis or dead tissue.
- Stage Four: Bones, tendons and muscle are often exposed and damaged with dead, dry tissue encircling the bottom part of the sore.
There is little excuse for any healthcare or nursing home facility to have a patient or resident with bedsores that develop beyond stage one. If your loved one exhibits obvious sores or open wounds, this may be a sign of serious negligent care by the nursing home facility.
Complications from Bedsores
The elderly are more susceptible to serious complications from bedsores and other wounds. Open wounds can easily lead to infection where the body fights the infection rather than healing the wound. Dead skin can surround the wound that can interfere with the body’s ability to self-heal and lead to other serious conditions.
Being immobile contributes to the development of ulcers, bedsores and bleeding that staff may only treat superficially while ignoring other problems. Although staff members may dress a wound, the failure to change dressings and to keep a wound from becoming too wet or too dry can lead to serious complications. Some of the more serious medical conditions that can result from untreated bedsores and wounds include:
- This is an infection in the bloodstream or tissues leading to widespread damage including possible organ failure and other serious complications.
- Infections. Untreated sores can infect bone and joints that can seriously damage cartilage and impair joint function.
- Cellulitis. The connective tissue becomes inflamed, which may result in meningitis.
- Left untreated, open wounds can result in squamous cell carcinoma, necessitating surgery that is always risky for elderly patients.
Nursing Home Liability
It is difficult to cover up wounds or bedsores on a nursing home resident who has been in a facility for any period of time. Nursing home staff are obligated to follow certain established protocol in monitoring residents, being examined for bedsores, providing proper nutrition, maintaining a hygienic environment and in delivering personal healthcare. If your loved one has developed complications from bedsores, contact our office we have significant experience as a nursing home negligence attorney. We will document the injuries, demonstrate causation and expose the facility to liability for its negligent conduct in allowing a life-threatening condition to develop.