Bedsores are one of the most common injuries suffered by nursing home residents across Ohio. One of the worst parts about these injuries is that they are often caused by neglect, which means they could have been prevented.
The Cincinnati nursing home bedsores lawyers at our law firm represent residents who developed bedsores because of the neglect of caregivers and other staff members. We have detailed knowledge of federal and state laws against the types of nursing home neglect that allow bedsores to develop. We also know how to investigate these situations to collect relevant evidence and build strong cases. Our goal is to recover the maximum compensation our clients are entitled for medical care, pain and suffering, and any other damages.
The consultation with our nursing home mistreatment attorneys is free and comes with no obligation to pursue a case. If you choose to move forward, you will not owe legal fees unless you receive compensation.
What Are Bedsores?
A bedsore, also known as a decubitus ulcer, is a red sore caused by extended periods of pressure on one area of the skin. That is why bedsores are also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers. Pressure causes the skin to die and turn red, resulting a painful sore that can turn purple if the injury is not treated.
Where Do Bedsores Occur?
Bedsores often occur on the following areas of the body:
- Backs of the arms
- Back of the head
- Sides of the knees
- Backs of the knees
Who Is At Risk?
Nursing home residents are at higher risk for developing these sores because they have a variety of health problems. Some of the health issues that increase the chances of developing bedsores include:
- Immobility – People who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs are at increased risk because they are confined to one, or a few positions, which puts many areas of the body under pressure. This is why nursing home residents who are bedridden need to be turned or moved on a regular basis to prevent prolonged pressure.
- Circulatory issues – Any health problems that affect blood flow could increase the risk of having pressure sores, including diabetes and vascular disease. These problems are common among the elderly, particularly those living at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- Malnutrition – Not getting enough water, vitamins, minerals, calories or protein affects the health of skin, making it easier for skin to break down, particularly when it is under pressure. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents need help eating and drinking but are neglected by staff members.
- Frequent incontinence – People with bladder control problems are at higher risk because their skin could get frequently soaked in urine. This makes the skin more likely to break down, particularly if an area that is often soaked in urine is also exposed to pressure. This is why nursing home residents who wear adult diapers are at increased risk for bedsores.
Stages Of Bedsores
There are four stages of a bedsore injury, with the fourth stage being the worst:
- Stage one – In this stage, the sore is red and warm to the touch. If the victim has darker skin, the area will look blue or purple. At this stage, the sore is painful, and the victim may complain of it burning or itching.
- Stage two – The area now has an open sore or blister and the victim experiences significant pain.
- Stage three – If the injury progresses to this point, it will have a crater-like appearance as it starts to damage tissue below the surface of the skin.
- Stage four – There will be a large wound because the damage has spread to the muscles, tendons, bones and possibly the joints. There is a heightened risk of infection at this point. If a stage four bedsore is left untreated, the base of the wound will be covered by slough, which is creamy tissue that is yellow, green, brown, tan or grey.
Complications From Pressure Sores
Pressure ulcers can cause life-threatening injuries, such as:
- Bone infections like osteomyelitis, which can impair function in joints and limbs
- Joint infections like septic arthritis, that can damage tissue and cartilage
- Skin infections like cellulitis, which can cause warmth, redness and swelling
If your loved one developed a bedsore and you think it was caused by nursing home neglect, contact a nursing home bedsores attorney in Cincinnati for a free consultation.
Federal Law On Nursing Home Residents And Bedsores
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 483) requires nursing homes that receive federal funding to take steps to prevent residents from developing bedsores and to respond appropriately if residents suffer these injuries. This federal law applies to facilities that receive federal funding through Medicare or Medicaid.
Under CFR 483.25(c), facilities must ensure two things when it comes to pressure sores:
- Residents who enter the facility without pressure sores do not develop them unless they were unavoidable because of a resident’s clinical condition
- Residents who have pressure sores receive the necessary treatment to promote healing and prevent infections and the development of more sores
The law does not give specifics about steps facilities should take to prevent residents from developing bedsores. However, there are other sections of the law that address issues that can increase the risk of developing bedsores.
For example, under CFR 483.25(d)(2), facilities are required to provide appropriate treatment and services to residents who are incontinent. Failing to appropriately treat incontinence could result in skin being soaked in urine, which can weaken it and increase the likelihood of bedsores developing.
CFR 483.15(h)(3) says the facility must provide clean bed linens that are in good condition. Failing to change bed linens could cause bedsores to become infected. CFR 483.65(c) says nursing home personnel must store, process and transport linens to help prevent the spread of an infection.
CFR 483.25(a)(3) says residents who are unable to maintain good nutrition and personal hygiene on their own must receive the necessary help with these things. Poor nutrition and hygiene could increase the chances of developing pressure ulcers. Malnutrition makes it easier for the skin to breakdown while poor hygiene, particularly bathroom hygiene, could cause bedsores to develop or even get worse.
Our Cincinnati nursing home bedsores attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the requirements imposed on nursing homes by the federal nursing home law. We will apply that knowledge to your situation to try to prove the facility and its staff members were negligent and this caused your loved one to develop bedsores.
Proving Negligence In A Bedsores Case
The experienced lawyers in Cincinnati at our firm will carefully review the steps the nursing home took to deal with your loved one’s bedsore to determine if negligence occurred. We will also try to determine steps they did not take to reduce the risk of bedsores.
Some of the steps that could lower the chances of pressure sores include:
- Repositioning immobile residents at regular intervals, such as every two hours, to prevent continued pressure on one area
- Ensuring resident’s skin and clothing are clean and dry
- Using pressure-relieving cushions and mattresses
- Routine skin checks to detect early signs of sores
- Changing sheets regularly to prevent the spread of an infection
- Repositioning wheelchair-bound residents regularly
The nursing home bedsores attorneys in Cincinnati at our firm will also look at how your loved one’s bedsores were treated. If staff members were negligent, they may have allowed your loved one’s sores to progress to a point they should not have.
Some of the bedsore treatments include:
- Cleaning the wound regularly
- Using medicated gauze or special dressing to protect the wound and help it heal
- Keeping pressure off the area
- Using antibiotics to treat infections
- Removing damaged tissue
- Ensuring good nutrition
Schedule a free legal consultation with our team to discuss your legal options. We are prepared to launch a comprehensive investigation to determine what happened and what was not done to help your loved one.
What To Do If Your Loved One Has Bedsores
The first thing you should do if your loved one has bedsores is to talk to staff members at the nursing home. It is possible the injury was not caused by negligence and the proper steps are being taken to treat the condition.
However, if you have reason to suspect negligence occurred, or if staff members are difficult, you should file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Bureau of Long Term Care, Complaint Unit. This unit deals with complaints against nursing homes that receive federal funding.
You can file a complaint by phone between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you call outside of those hours, leave a voicemail message and your call should be returned.
You can also mail a complaint form to the complaint unit. Make sure to use the narrative section to give a detailed description of what is going on.
Once you submit a complaint, the Bureau of Long Term Care will investigate to determine what happened and if the facility or staff members should be penalized.
After filing a complaint, contact a Cincinnati nursing home bedsores attorney at our firm for a free legal consultation. While the authorities can penalize nursing homes for providing insufficient care, we can pursue compensation for the damages caused by bedsores.
Contact A Cincinnati Nursing Home Bedsores Attorney
Our legal team understands the confusion and anger families experience when they discover their elderly loved one has bedsores.
We are ready to help you during this difficult time. We can explain your legal options and help you pursue compensation for medical expenses, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and other damages.
We know compensation cannot change what happened, but it can be an important part of helping you and your loved one move forward.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation with our Cincinnati nursing home bedsores lawyers today. You will not owe any fees unless you receive compensation.