Are Pressure Ulcers a Sign of Neglect?
July 26, 2019
Pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bedsores, should never be commonplace in a nursing home environment. As a painful and entirely preventable condition, they are a visible sign that a loved one is not receiving proper care from their designated provider. Here is how you can decipher if you need to step in on behalf of your loved one and whether you should bring your concerns to an attorney.
What Causes Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers often indicate neglect of an elder individual in a nursing home because it means they have been left alone for an extended time. Bedsores develop when blood supply to an area of skin is cut off for two to three hours or more. If a person doesn’t move at all for this length of time, the part that experiences the pressure from idleness loses circulation and starts to form a red, painful area that can become infected.
Elderly and disabled people in nursing homes can be particularly susceptible to pressure ulcers because they can be unable to move into a more comfortable position when pressure builds up on certain body parts. Bedsores typically form on a person’s buttocks, back, undersides of limbs, head, elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. It’s essential to keep an eye out for these sores on a loved one, as they’re not only painful, but they’re also very dangerous to their health if left untreated.
The Stages of Pressure Ulcers
When a bedsore is left to fester, it gradually gets more severe. Most medical providers classify them in four stages based on outward appearance:
Stage 1: The sore will look red or purple and feel warm to the touch. The affected person will mention a burning or itching sensation as well as general pain.
Stage 2: The damaged skin will now have a sore, scrape, or blister. The surrounding skin will be discolored, and the person will mention extreme pain.
Stage 3: The area will concave into a crater-like sore due to subsurface damage.
Stage 4: The sore is now a large wound that can involve underlying muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. The affected person is at significant risk of infection.
If your loved one shows signs of discomfort or pain, it’s essential that you take action immediately to find them better care. Treating pressure ulcers is a major priority, as they can take weeks, months, even years to heal, especially if the victim has auxiliary medical conditions like diabetes. You should also consult an attorney for next steps.
How to Pursue Repercussions for Neglect of Care
Pressure ulcers are an entirely preventable condition, even for those with extensive cognitive or physical disabilities that limit their movement. As a result, they are a direct sign of neglect from the nursing home or other caregiving party. There can be complications, however, when trying to demonstrate that the provider is responsible for that negligence. To pursue legal action for elder abuse, an attorney will need to prove that the provider was responsible for a duty of care, they strayed from an acceptable standard, an injury occurred to the victim in this situation, and that breach of responsibility caused the damage.
Providers will try to mask negligence by falsifying documents of care. For instance, they may write down that a nurse has tended to a patient when they haven’t, or that a doctor has visited with them even though they missed their appointment. It’s essential that you speak up for your loved one if you’re concerned they are a victim of this issue, as they likely cannot consult an attorney themselves.
If you believe that someone you know is subject to elder abuse, step in by hiring an attorney to help them. In Omaha, NE, Salerno & Associates is the skilled and compassionate choice in a variety of legal matters. For more information about how our team can help you through this emotionally challenging legal action, give us a call today.