DC Bedsores Lawyer

Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores are injuries caused by pressure on the skin that goes unrelieved for a significant amount of time. One of the most common causes of bedsores is when an individual lies in the same position for too long. Unfortunately, this means that bedsores are a far too common occurrence.

Bedsores are often a sign of neglect and therefore can be a cause of lawsuits. However, a lawsuit may only applicable after the neglect occurred and caused the injured party to suffer. If you are your loved one living in a nursing home facility is suffering from bedsores, an experienced Washington, DC bedsores lawyer could review your case, evaluate your claim, and discuss your legal options.

Signs of Bedsores

When a relative is in a nursing home or receives any kind of care for largely bedridden conditions, it is important to be on the lookout for the warning signs of bedsores. These pressure ulcers begin as spots of aggravated, unrelenting pressure, and they can have several tell-tale signs.

Changes in the Pallor of the Skin

One sign that a loved one may be in the process of developing a bedsore is that their skin takes on a reddish, inflamed hue. The area around the redness may or may not be painful to the touch. In some cases, the skin may be marked by off-colored shades rather than simply redness.

There is a simple way to test this phenomenon. When a person without a bedsore presses a part of their body, the skin briefly turns pale when the pressure is released. When a patient has a bedsore, this does not happen. Instead, the skin retains its redness.

Changes in the Texture of the Skin

Bedsores can be discerned by touch as well. When touching a part of the body that has been adversely affected by pressure, the suspect body part may feel warmer or cooler than usual. The surrounding tissue will be at a different temperature to the bedsore because of the underlying irritation or infection.

Also, the texture of an area of skin that may develop into a bedsore often stands out against the texture of the surrounding skin, much like its temperature. Skin that has been under too much continued pressure may feel either spongier or firmer than the surrounding skin. The point is not necessarily the way that the bedsore feels, but rather the difference in the way it feels when compared to the skin around it.

Pain and Swelling

Like any sore, a bedsore may come with significant pain and swelling. If a nursing home resident reports pain and has swelling on one or more areas of their skin that frequently touches their bedding, they may have bedsores.

Another fact to keep in mind is that, though pain can be an indicator of bedsores even without a visible wound in the skin, bedsores often result in open wounds or skin tears. People with relatives in Washington DC nursing homes should keep an eye out for any suspicious wounds that develop — especially in areas on which the relative commonly applies continued pressure.

Patient Testimony

Finally, one of the most important pieces of evidence that relatives can use when assessing whether or not their loved one has developed bedsores is the testimony of the patients themselves. If a loved one remarks that they have been lying in the same position for days without being moved, that should alert the family to potential nursing home neglect and the possibility of bedsores. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms or signs of bedsores, contact a DC bedsores lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation and legal rights.

Do Certain Settings Encourage Bedsores?

Bedsores, caused by continuous pressure on the skin, primarily are the result of caretakers neglecting to turn or move bedridden individuals. Since the bedridden patient remains in the same position for an extended period of time, the same parts of their body handle the pressure of their body against their mattresses and often rub up against their bedsheets, chafing and causing serious skin irritation.

It should be no surprise, then, that bedsore cases often occur in understaffed nursing homes. The following list provides some examples of settings that may tend to encourage bedsores. Though this does not mean that these types of settings will result, inevitably, in the development of bedsores and other neglectful behavior, it does mean that having a loved one in a setting like these may require heightened vigilance on behalf of the patient and their family.

Understaffed Care Centers

Whether a patient receives care in a hospital, a nursing home, or another setting, main reason that bedsores develop is that the care center is understaffed. The vast majority of nurses and doctors are diligent and desire to help and care for their patients. However, when the care center lacks the proper amount of staff, there is only so much that caregivers can do.

Unfortunately, this means that some patients may be skipped from time to time, largely on accident. Since patients normally defer to the judgment of doctors and nurses, they may decide not to say anything about being overlooked. This can result in the patient remaining in a fixed position for far too long, which can cause them to develop painful bedsores through no fault of their own.

Disorganized Care Centers

Care centers that are disorganized also lend themselves to the encouragement of bedsores. In many cases, this phenomenon may be related to understaffing as well. Disorganization can lead to the misplacement of important medical information, an increased risk of errors in medical care, and a bigger likelihood that patients may become overlooked.

Even in situations in which the hospital or Washington DC nursing home is sufficiently staffed, disorganization can indicate a lack of attention to detail in its staff. This is important, as turning a patient or giving them regular baths may tend to take a back seat, in the minds of caregivers, to more immediately crucial services like the provision of medicines and the handling of medical emergencies. A staff that is not used to paying attention to the small details may forget to rotate or reposition their patients, causing painful bedsores that can develop into serious medical conditions.

A Washington, DC bedsores lawyer can help identify if your loved one’s bedsores resulted from negligent care.

Common Areas for Bedsores

The areas on the body that are commonly affected by bedsores mirror the cause of these wounds: unrelieved pressure. They are the places on the body that typically come into contact with sustained pressure while the patient sleeps or lies still in bed. These are the places that loved ones should check for irregularities in order to spot the early warning signs of bedsores. They include the following:

  • Ears
  • The back or side of the head
  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Inner knees
  • Heels
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows

Though these are the most common areas on the body that develop bedsores, they are by no means the only places that can do so. Any area of the body that experiences even the slightest amount of pressure for an extended period of time, unrelieved, can develop a pressure ulcer. Importantly, this includes areas on the body that come into contact with medical devices.

For example, the nose or cheek can rub against the plastic tubes of an oxygen machine for an extended period of time. Similarly, a patient’s forearms may develop sores from the constant pressure of intravenous tubing. Both of these are situations that can lead to pressure ulcers, so it is important to check every part of the body that experiences unrelieved pressure. Even if the pressure does not seem to be great, its continued presence is what can cause the painful sores.

Complications Caused by Bedsores

Though bedsores are painful and difficult to deal with by themselves, they are also undesirable for the complications that they can cause. When nursing home patients in Washington DC develop bedsores, they soon may develop other, more harmful medical conditions as well.


A bacterial skin infection that can range in severity, cellulitis usually develops when openings or tears in the skin become infected. Since bedsores can turn into open wounds, they are at risk for the development of cellulitis. Some of the symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Reddening of the skin
  • Abnormally warm patches in the skin
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Blisters
  • Red spots or rashes

If the patient develops a fever, it is important to seek emergency medical care, as this may indicate that the cellulitis has progressed.


Gangrene is a term for the death of skin and other body tissue. It can result from a lack of blood flow as well as from a bacterial infection, both of which can occur when a patient has bedsores. Since bedsores arise from constant pressure, and since elderly patients in Washington DC nursing homes may take blood thinners, this constant pressure can lead to a lack of blood flow to certain regions of the body, like hands or feet. It is possible for gangrene to set in in these cases.

Oxygen therapy and antibiotic medication can be used to treat gangrene when the problem is caught quickly enough. However, some cases that go unnoticed or untreated for too long may require surgical removal of the dead body tissue. It is important to be vigilant in looking for these symptoms of the onset of gangrene:

  • Bad-smelling discharge from a bedsore
  • Skin that is shiny or hairless
  • Abnormally cool or cold skin
  • Blisters filled with fluid
  • Sudden pain and subsequent numbing of the skin
  • Discolored skin, including blue, purple, bronze, red, or black skin


An infection of bone matter, osteomyelitis is a serious condition that once was thought to be untreatable. Even now, with the wonders of modern medicine, the condition is usually treated surgically by the removal of the infected bone tissue.

A sign of chronic illness, osteomyelitis may develop in cases of bedsores that are left untreated for a significantly long time. In these cases, the infection eventually spreads to the blood and, from there, to the bones. Signs to look out for when checking for osteomyelitis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth of the skin
  • Redness


Sepsis stems from the body’s overreaction to infection. Essentially, the body’s defense mechanisms turn on itself and begin attacking other bodily tissues, often damaging organ function. A very serious problem, sepsis can lead to death. The elderly and people with chronic illnesses, as well as people with compromised immune systems, are at a heightened risk to develop sepsis and should be monitored carefully.

Unfortunately, the people who develop sepsis are often in medical facilities. This can result from infections caught from an unsterilized surgery room, infections caught from other sick patients, or infections that result from the condition for which the patient is already hospitalized. In nursing homes, sepsis can develop from infections that result from bedsores.

It is very important to catch sepsis before it leads to septic shock. The latter condition results in death in roughly 40 percent of cases.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

A rare but nonetheless very serious condition, necrotizing fasciitis is commonly referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria” in layperson’s terms. Health experts largely are of the opinion that most cases of necrotizing fasciitis are caused by bacteria in group A Streptococcus (the same kind of bacteria that causes strep throat). Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Oozing fluid or pus
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

The common ways to treat this infection include implementing a strict antibiotic regimen and, if the infection has spread too far, surgically removing the affected areas. Necrotizing fasciitis can spread incredibly fast for an infection, and its results can be life-threatening and devastating. Seek immediate medical care if it is believed that a loved one has developed this issue.

Ways to Prevent Bedsores

Though the horrors of bedsores and the conditions that can develop from them are harrowing, preventing bedsores is relatively simple. This is one reason why victims of bedsores in nursing homes may be able to pursue significant damages with the help of a dedicated Washington, DC bedsores attorney.

Cleaning and Drying the Patient

Regular bathing and drying-off of the patient can decrease the risk of harmful bedsores. It is important to make sure that the patient is cleaned of possibly harmful bacteria while also drying their body to prevent unnecessary rubbing and irritation.


Of course, since bedsores commonly develop when the same parts of a patient’s body are in contact with the bed, a simple way to relieve this pressure is to switch up the patient’s position every two hours. Essentially, this gives those areas of the body a rest from continuous pressure.

Hydration and Diet

This step is important for maintaining an individual’s overall health. Malnourished or underhydrated patients may have weakened, too-dry, or saggy skin that is more at risk of developing irritations and bedsores. It is best to ensure that the patient engages in a healthy diet and drinks roughly eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day.


Another way of relieving the constant pressure that can cause bedsores is to provide nursing home patients with adequate cushions. These should be rotated as needed in order to ease the amount of pressure experienced by at-risk parts of the body.

Encouraging Activity

Anything that gets the bedridden individual to move around is a good way to decrease the risk of that patient developing bedsores. Usually, patients tend to be more active when family visit. Activities can include walking the halls or in outdoor areas occasionally, moving to a community activity room to play board games, and anything else that causes the individual to relieve the pressure of constantly lying in the same position.

Consult a Washington, DC Bedsores Lawyer

If you or a loved one have developed bedsores in a nursing home, there is relief that you can seek. After discussing your case with a doctor or caregiver and receiving the medical care you need, contact a Washington, DC bedsore lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney could gather evidence of neglect, including eyewitness statements, medical records, and testimony from other doctors as to the negligence of the nursing home and its deviation from the standard of care.

Bedsores often are the result of nursing home negligence, and you and your family may be entitled to compensation for the harms and damages you have suffered. In Washington DC, negligence claims against a nursing home must be brought within three years according to DC Code §12-301. If the patient passes away, however, a wrongful death claim must be brought to court within one year.

For help in any case involving bedsores in Washington DC nursing homes, contact a local and dedicated lawyer who can fight for you and the compensation you need to get your life — and the life of your family — back on track.