Pressure ulcers or bed sores may speed the decline of a loved one

Nursing home neglect can easily result in bed sores when an elderly person is confined to a wheelchair or bed. These sores may then speed the decline of your loved one.

Bed sores pose a large problem at hospital and nursing facilities across the nation. The numbers are quite staggering. An estimated 2.5 million Americans suffer from these sores each year and 60,000 die of pressure ulcer complications.

When an elderly loved one who lives in Florida is restricted to a wheelchair or bedridden the risks are real. Bed sores can develop quickly. Thin, frail individuals with less fat padding their tailbone, shoulders or hips are the most susceptible. Medical staff must take care to reposition a patient to reduce pressure. When symptoms are recognized, a transfer to a hospital is often necessary.

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel classifies pressure sores based on their severity. Categories include:

  • Stage I: Skin may appear red or fails to lighten when touched. The site is usually painful, and exhibits different characteristics from surrounding skin.
  • Stage II: As the sore develops, the color may turn pinkish or red and appear to be a fluid-filled blister.
  • Stage III: Fat may become exposed and the wound appears crater-like. Dead yellowish tissue may become visible.
  • Stage IV: At this advanced stage, muscle or bone may become exposed and the wound extends into the surrounding healthy skin.

Sustained pressure, friction and shear are some of the most common causes. For these reasons, it is often necessary to move bedridden individuals every two to three hours.

Medical negligence at a care facility

If a reasonable standard of care is not provided by a nursing facility or hospital, it may cause a sore to develop or worsen. A medical malpractice case usually will require the testimony of an expert physician regarding the standard of care.

In a Florida medical malpractice case, you must prove that a hospital, clinic or nursing facility owed a loved one a specific standard of care. After establishing the standard of care, it is necessary to prove that a breach of the applicable standard occurred. Lastly, the breach must be a proximate cause of the decline or injury. This is referred to as the Gooding standard.

Causation: More likely than not standard

If an expert testified that the treatment did not meet the applicable standard of care, it is still necessary to show a different outcome would have occurred. For instance, in one case a physician testified that failure to follow a standard of care caused an infection of a bed sore. However, the expert could not predict whether the wound would have healed more quickly or without pain after a recommended procedure.

The causation standard in negligence cases in Florida is a "more likely than not" standard. In the case of a wound, there needs to be some medical probability that another suggested treatment might cure a wound, cause it to heal quicker or result in less pain. Suggesting another treatment was the "best chance to heal" would not likely be sufficient.

Nursing home negligence and medical malpractice claims are very complicated. If a loved one suffers from pressure sores and quickly deteriorates, seek the counsel of a skilled Ford, Dean & Rotundo attorney who can investigate whether a mistake, error or neglect caused the serious injury.

Keywords: bed sores, nursing home neglect, personal injury