Birmingham AL Bedsore Lawyer
If your loved one is wheelchair-bound or bedridden, they may develop bedsores — especially if they’re receiving inadequate care. While not every bedsore is caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, you should always take these lesions seriously and ask hard questions when you discover them on your loved one’s body.
Below, we discuss bedsore injuries, how to prevent them, and what you should do when they are discovered. To learn more about how to protect your loved one, speak to a Birmingham AL bedsore lawyer at Petro Law Firm today.
What Are Bedsores?
Sometimes called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bedsores are tissue injuries that occur when pressure is placed on an area of skin for long periods of time. They are typically found on bony areas of a patient’s body, like their tailbone, hips, ankles, and heels.
Like most injuries, bedsores can vary in severity, depending on how long they are left untreated.
- Stage 1: While the skin is intact, it is red, painful, and tender. These bedsores can feel warm or cold to the touch, and may be either soft or firm.
- Stage 2: Two layers of the skin, the epidermis and dermis are damaged. These bedsores typically look like a blister or a reddish wound.
- Stage 3: The ulcer is now deeper and exposes fatty tissue. You may see a yellow-colored area of tissue in the wound, and previously healthy skin around the bedsore may start to die.
- Stage 4: The most severe (and rarest) type of bedsore. Stage 4 bedsores involve extensive dead tissue, which may look crusty and dark. The patient has lost significant tissue, and you may see exposed bones, tendons, or muscle.
While most mild bedsores are easily treatable, neglected bedsores are incredibly painful and can be life-threatening. That’s why long-term care patients deserve strict bedsore protocols and aggressive treatment of their wounds or lesions.
What Causes Bedsores?
Bedsores are caused by sustained pressure. When your body is in the same position for a very long time, you put focused pressure on areas like your tailbone, heels, ears, and ankles. This pressure can limit blood flow to the surrounding tissue, depriving them of oxygen, nutrients, and other life-giving compounds. Over time, this decreased blood flow can cause damage to the skin and tissue, causing a bedsore.
Other factors that cause a bedsore include friction and shearing. Friction is, at its simplest, rubbing. If you have limited mobility, nursing staff will need to help move and reposition you. When you are dragged, repositioned, or carried, your skin will rub against surfaces, causing damage. Because elderly patients’ skin is delicate and slow to heal, this friction can cause skin damage and lead to bedsores.
Shearing is when one tissue moves, while others stay still. For example, suppose you are lying in a hospital bed for months. If your head of the bed is elevated for long periods of time, your upper body may start to sink downwards, while your skin remains in place. This pulling and downward pressure can damage your skin and blood vessels, making them prone to a bedsore.
Who Is at Risk for Bedsores?
Because bedsores occur when someone is in the same position for a long period of time, they are most common in disabled and elderly individuals who are in wheelchairs, bedridden, or have limited mobility. This includes people who are sedated, recovering from a serious surgery, paralyzed, or in a coma or vegetative state.
To combat bedsores, a patient with limited mobility should be carefully repositioned roughly once an hour. For patients with some mobility, the nursing staff may teach them how to safely reposition themselves. For those with more intense needs, the nursing staff will need to physically reposition them to avoid serious bedsores.
Physical inspection of the patient’s skin is also important. When treated early on, bedsores typically resolve without significant complications. However, when a bedsore is ignored or neglected, it can have catastrophic results.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Nursing Home Abuse?
Not every bedsore, especially a stage 1 bedsore, is a sign of nursing home abuse. However, it is a warning sign of negligence that deserves serious scrutiny. If you notice a bedsore or your loved one complains of skin discomfort, immediately bring it to the attention of the nursing home and its staff. If the problem is very severe or does not resolve, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Birmingham AL bedsore lawyer.
Nursing home abuse or neglect is an unfortunate reality. While we place significant trust in nursing facilities, understaffing, disorganization, lack of clear procedures, and improper training can all result in serious bedsore injuries — and liability for the long-term care facility.
Depending on your circumstances, the nursing facility may be financially responsible for your loved one’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. However, these cases are complicated and require a significant amount of legal and medical knowledge. A bedsore lawyer at Petro Law Firm can help you understand your loved one’s legal rights and explain your options.
Consult With a Birmingham AL Bedsore Lawyer at Petro Law Firm
If you have questions about nursing home abuse, consult with a Birmingham AL bedsore lawyer at Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys today. We handle complex claims against nursing homes, hospitals, and other care centers. We work closely with our clients and fight for the compensation they deserve. To request a free consultation, contact our office today.