Virginia Bedsores Lawyer

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, are injuries to the skin and underlying tissues. These injuries most commonly occur when a person has a medical condition that confines them to one place such as a bed or wheelchair. Bedsores in Virginia nursing homes and hospitals are very common. They are also often a sign of abuse or neglect by the medical staff in these facilities.

Most bedsores can be treated, with the patient seeing a full recovery. Sometimes, however, extensive treatment such as surgery is needed to repair the sore. When this is the case in an older individual with bedsores, a population most at risk, the treatment can lead to further complications.

Bedsores are easily preventable and therefore, should never happen. Anyone that is suffering from bedsores, or has a loved one that is, should speak to a Virginia bedsores lawyer as soon as possible. A compassionate and capable nursing home injury attorney could fight for them.

Assessing Bedsores

Like other injuries, bedsores can be minor or severe. Before a treatment plan can be developed, the wound needs to be assessed to determine the severity and nature of the bedsore. These assessments are typically conducted by healthcare professionals that will look at a variety of factors.

Medical staff will often use tools such as the Braden Scale to assess bedsores. This assessment will inspect areas of the body prone to bedsores. If they are present, the medical staff will then conduct a further analysis.

That analysis will begin by determining the cause of the bedsore. The history of the sore, how long it has been present, and any prior treatment will also be taken into consideration. Any granular tissue that has developed around the sore will also be assessed. This tissue most often forms during the healing process and will help determine the duration of the sore, as well as any treatment that has begun on the sore.

Bedsores have four different stages. The stage of the sore will be assessed as well, as this will indicate how long the patient has been suffering from the sore. If there is tunneling of the sore, it will indicate the sore has been present for some time. Dry and darkening scabs will also be analyzed, as will any necrosis, or deadening of the skin around the sore. This will also help the doctor or healthcare worker determine the severity of the sore, as well as how long the patient has had it.

It is important that patients and their loved ones understand that an assessment should not only occur upon admission to a nursing home or other healthcare facility. After the initial assessment, bedsores, and areas of the body most prone to them, should be assessed every 24 hours. This should continue until the patient is discharged from the facility. The assessment allows healthcare staff to spot bedsores before they progress into further stages, and helps them prevent the sores from forming. A Virginia bedsores attorney could help you understand how a bedsore assessment should be conducted and whether the nursing home or facility acted appropriately.

How Settings Can Encourage Bedsores

Anyone that remains in the same position, mainly lying or sitting, for long periods of time, can potentially develop bedsores. However, there are certain settings in which bedsores are more likely to develop. Unfortunately, nursing homes are one of the most common.

The Centers for Disease Control has stated that approximately ten percent of all nursing home residents across the country have bedsores. With just under 300 nursing homes in Virginia, that is thousands of elderly individuals currently suffering in this state alone.

This is an alarming statistic. Most bedsores are entirely preventable. When they occur in nursing homes, it is most often a sign of abuse or neglect. Nursing homes are notoriously understaffed. When this happens, there is not enough staff to turn patients as needed to prevent bedsores. Too often, it is easier to leave someone in bed or in a wheelchair without moving them, particularly when another patient that is mobile needs help.

Other types of abuse or neglect in nursing homes can also contribute to bedsores. When patients are malnourished, dehydrated, or have been sitting in soiled diapers or wet or dirty bed sheets, this can contribute to the presence of bedsores. These conditions in nursing homes are also often due to the fact that there is not enough staff to properly care for patients. In some cases, staff may also not be properly trained to identify and prevent bedsores, or they may simply not be providing the proper care.

These are never excuses for bedsores to develop. Nursing homes and their staff need to ensure that every patient is cared for properly and adequately. A Virginia bedsores lawyer could help investigate a situation in which nursing home staff may be inadequate in their caring for their residents.

Bedsores are also very prevalent in hospital settings. Again, this is an environment in which there may not be enough staff to properly attend to all patients. Patients are often left in bed or in wheelchairs for long periods of time. When these patients are elderly, they may also not realize sores are developing, and may not be able to ask for help.

The presence of bedsores in hospitals is not as common as in nursing homes. This is largely due to a policy change by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Under this policy, the Centers will no longer be reimbursing hospitals for treatment for bedsores in later stages that developed while the patient was under hospital care.

Common Areas for Bedsores

Bedsores develop when there is pressure against the skin. This can limit the amount of blood flow to the skin and cause the vulnerable skin to become damaged. This can happen when there is excessive pressure constantly applied to the skin, such as when a person is left lying on their back all day. It can also be caused by friction, such as sheets regularly rubbing against skin or clothing.

Due to the causes of bedsores, individuals with limited mobility are most at risk for bedsores. This is because certain areas of the body are exposed to the possibility of bedsores, particularly those that are not well-padded with fat or muscle.

Those in wheelchairs may be especially susceptible to bedsores developing on the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, and the back of the arms and legs. These are the areas of the body that are often pressed against the back of the chair. This causes the rubbing, friction, and sheer that often causes bedsores.

Those confined to a bed will also find that the areas regularly pressed against the bed or sheets will be most susceptible to developing bedsores. These areas include the shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, ankles, and the skin behind the knees.

Bedsores most commonly occur in the lower areas of the body. However, the upper body can also develop bedsores when a patient is not properly cared for. For example, if the head of a bed is elevated and a patient slides down, bedsores can also develop on the back of the head as it moves in the opposite direction of the sheet and causes friction.

Complications Caused by Bedsores

In addition to the extreme pain and discomfort bedsores can cause, there are a number of other complications that can arise. These complications are severe and can even be life-threatening in some instances.

Gangrene is one complication that can arise as a result of bedsores. This occurs when blood flow in and around the sore has been severely restricted. When this happens, it provides an environment in which bacteria can grow rapidly. These bacteria produce toxins and as the presence of toxins increases, the tissue will begin to deteriorate. As the deterioration progresses, the skin around the wound may turn black or green. A foul odor may also emit from the wound.

There are treatment options for gangrene, but they are often severe. If antibiotics are not enough to treat the condition, surgery may be required. In the most serious cases, amputation may be the only way to treat gangrene.

Cellulitis is another complication that may be a result of bedsores. Cellulitis is a condition in which the skin, connected soft tissues, and nerves may become infected. When this occurs, the patient may not even feel the pain associated with cellulitis due to the extensive nerve damage that can occur.

When a patient continues to be neglected, cellulitis can become more severe. Often cellulitis may be treated with antibiotics alone. When the condition does not respond to these antibiotics, the patient may need to be seen by an infectious disease specialist.

Another infection that can result as a complication of bedsores is osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bones. Those with any open wounds, including bedsores, are particularly susceptible to developing the condition. Bacteria enters the wound, similar to the way it does with gangrene. After bacteria are present in the wound, they then begin to attack the bones. As the bone becomes infected, enzymes are released. These enzymes prevent the body from being able to heal itself.

When osteomyelitis is not treated promptly, the infection can continue to spread to the bone marrow and the surrounding joints. Due to this, osteomyelitis should be identified as soon as possible. This is often not done when the infection is a result of bedsores unfortunately, as bedsores tend to develop initially because of neglect. When the infection is identified in its early stages, surgery is often the only option for treatment. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for people with osteomyelitis as a complication of bedsores is very high.

Necrotizing fasciitis is another very severe complication that can arise as a result of bedsores. This is most likely to happen when bedsores are in advanced stages, normally the third or fourth stage. Necrotizing fasciitis is also known as flesh eating bacteria. However, the bacteria involved in this type of infection does not actually eat the flesh. Rather, it causes the flesh to die. Initially, the patient is likely to experience severe pain at the sight of the infection. This is often accompanied by extreme swelling. As the infection progresses, the patient is likely to begin vomiting or experiencing diarrhea as the body tries to rid itself of the infection.

Like osteomyelitis, the complication of necrotizing fasciitis from a bedsore can be devastating. While antibiotics can be used to treat the infection in its earliest stages, surgery may be required if the medication is not effective at treating the infection. In many cases, patients often die as a result, mostly due directly to the infection, but sometimes as a result of the surgery done to treat the infection.

Sepsis is the presence of harmful bacteria and the toxins they carry in tissues of the body. It often enters the tissues through a wound, such as bedsores, that have become infected. When sepsis becomes extremely severe, it can develop into septic shock. This is a very serious medical condition. Those with advanced bedsores are particularly susceptible. This is not only because the wound is often very large and vulnerable to infection, but also because the patient’s body is often in a weakened state that is not properly equipped to fight the infection.

Patients suffering from sepsis and/or septic shock will have many possible symptoms. These include body temperature that is either too high or too low, low blood pressure, low urine output, a rash or discoloration of the skin, rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath. Patients may also appear to be confused or in a state of delirium.

When nursing home staff suspect that a patient has sepsis, or is going into septic shock, they need to immediately order urine and blood tests. This will identify if an infection is present. It will also test the functionality of the organs. Doctors may also use x-rays to identify any fluid in the lungs, if there is any.

Unfortunately, nursing home staff may not even realize a patient has sepsis or is entering septic shock. Bedsores are a very serious condition that often develop due to neglect. When staff is not properly caring for their patients, sepsis is just as likely to go unnoticed as the actual sores that caused further complications.

It is rare for sepsis to develop as a result of bedsores. When it does though, it can be a dire prognosis for the patient. Most often, particularly when the condition has progressed into a state of septic shock, the condition is fatal.

Most bedsores are preventable. If not caught soon, the complications caused by bedsores can be severe and life threatening. If your loved one is suffering from bedsores in a nursing home or assisted living facility, speak with an experienced Virginia bedsores lawyer and learn your rights and legal options.

Consulting a Virginia Bedsores Attorney

Bedsores are most often a result of negligence on the part of the nursing home or hospital staff caring for a patient. With most bedsores being preventable, and easily treatable if caught early, there is no reason for this to happen. There is also no reason for loved ones to lose a family member because of complications that arise from the presence of bedsores.

When patients have been severely harmed by bedsores or the complications that result from them, there may be compensation available. The compensation will vary depending on whether a personal injury lawsuit is filed for a living patient, or if a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed for someone that has died due to bedsores.

In order to gain compensation in cases involving bedsores in Virginia nursing homes, the patient and/or their loved ones will need to be able to prove the nursing home staff was negligent. This can be challenging, and going up against the big corporations that often run nursing homes, even more so. This is where a dedicated Virginia bedsores lawyer can help.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have teams of lawyers and in many cases, lots of money that can tie the case up in the court system for years. They also have insurance to help protect them in the case that someone gets hurt while staying at the nursing home. In some cases, these insurance companies will offer a settlement to the patient or their loved ones, but the settlement may be unfair.

It is for this reason that anyone wishing to file a case involving bedsores speak to a Virginia bedsores lawyer. An attorney could ask for medical records that can indicate bedsores were improperly attended to or ignored completely. This can help prove that the nursing home staff was neglectful. A lawyer could also speak to the insurance company on the patient’s behalf, or on behalf of their loved ones. When an attorney is involved, insurance companies are often more likely to offer fair settlements.

If you or your loved one has developed bedsores, or has suffered complications as a result of them, speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. No one should have to suffer as a result of these preventable conditions. When they do, an attorney may be your best chance of success in getting the compensation you deserve.