Nursing home and bed sores what are my options?
Just a little over a million people are currently residing in nursing homes within the United States. The good news is that most of them get good care. Unfortunately, however, due to overstaffing issues, inadequate training, incompetence, or indifference on the part of care givers sometimes nursing home residents are injured.
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “If my mom is in a nursing home and I have noticed that she is suffering from severe bed sores is this a case of nursing home negligence, and if it is, what can I do about it?”
Although what is happening to your mother is horrible, the good news is you do have several steps you can take to ensure your mother’s care meets the legal standard required by nursing homes.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
The first step to ensuring your mother is adequately cared for is to understand what nursing home neglect is and the legal duties required by the nursing home facility.
Nursing home neglect can include any action or inaction on the part of the caregiver which does not rise to the level of care expected, which is generally defined as what a “prudent and reasonable person would or would not due under similar circumstances.”
If this sub-standard care or negligence injures or harms a patient in the care of the nursing home there may be reason to consider filing a civil claim against the nursing home.
Another issue to consider is whether the actions at the nursing home may move past what would be considered negligent to actions which are willfully or grossly negligent.
For example, we have all seen videos of employees yelling or screaming at nursing home residents, or worse, physically or sexually assaulting them. Obviously, any actions considered criminal, such as an assault, are more than negligent and should be immediately reported to the police for a criminal investigation.
Bed Sores and nursing home neglect
Now, back to bed sores…
Patients can be neglected in a variety of ways. The most common ways include failing to provide healthy social interactions, failing to provide basic medical care, neglecting care for a patient’s basic hygienic needs, or failing to provide food and water.
Bed sores can be related to several factors so let’s take a closer look at what they are and how they are caused.
Bed sores, also referred to as pressure ulcers, can develop when the skin has constant and prolonged contact with a bed or wheelchair and the circulation or blood flow is slowed or stopped. Unfortunately, they can be very serious, often leading to infections of the skin or bones. They most commonly form over areas of bone, including the heels, hips, or tailbone.
Causes and prevention of bed sores
As mentioned above, bed sores can develop for many reasons. Although neglect could be factor, other risk factors could include smoking, lack of pain perception, urinary or fecal incontinence, malnutrition, dementia and diabetes. Despite why bed sores occur, however, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent them:
-Ensure the individual is consistently repositioned. Although repositioning should occur every 30 minutes to 2 hours, this could be unrealistic in a busy nursing home.
-Consider purchasing special equipment such as a special bed or mattress that can be adjusted on a schedule.
-Verify that the staff of the nursing home has a process for inspecting and detecting bed sores at the earliest possible stage.
If the bed sores are already present, steps need to be taken to more aggressively treat them, including evaluating the patient’s nutrition, ensuring there is a regular wound and treatment process, discussing coordinated efforts with the doctor and physical therapist, and frequently changing the dressings on the wound.
Bed Sores and negligence
Now, back to the user’s question about whether or not her mother’s bed sores may be a case of negligent care. Although bed sores may be an indication that the nursing staff at a nursing home may be negligent in caring for a patient, it’s not the only cause.
If you have concerns about your mother’s care it’s time to talk to the nursing home administrator, familiarize yourself with the federal regulations which outline how bed sores should be prevented, documented, and treated, and review your mother’s nursing home history on the Medicare website (www.medicare.gov).
Filing an injury claim against a nursing home
If you have taken all the necessary steps and still feel that your mother’s care is substandard, it may be time to talk to an injury lawyer who specializes in nursing negligence claims.
Remember, nursing homes have a legal and potentially a contractual duty to provide a certain standard of care to their residents. Failure to provide this care can open them up to civil negligence claims.
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State laws will determine how compensation will be awarded if your actions contributed to your own injuries.