Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are the result of someone staying in one position for too long and are a common condition of elderly or bedridden individuals who cannot move well unassisted. Nursing home caregivers are required to ensure that their patients do not develop bedsores, by helping them change their positions at regular intervals, using pillows and padding to relieve pressure, and keeping the patient dry and clean.
Residents in nursing homes may not be aware that developing bedsores may entitle them to claim damages against their caregivers. Bedsores can result in damaged tissues, and extreme cases might cause infections or necessitate an amputation.
The Requirements of Caregivers
Nursing home staff members must ensure that their patients are kept clean and are provided with clean, dry bedding. Bedridden patients may have a limited range of motion, preventing them from changing positions unassisted, so their caregivers must ensure that they are moved regularly to prevent bedsores. There are federal regulations that comprehensively detail the responsibilities of nursing homes in terms of the prevention and treatment of bedsores. Prevention methods include:
- Regularly repositioning the patient so that the pressure of their weight is not concentrated in one spot for too long.
- Providing toilet care and changing clothes on a regular basis, especially with patients who struggle with incontinence.
- Ensuring the patient receives proper hydration and nutrition to promote a healthy immune system and resistance to potential infections.
If a patient receives regular treatment but still develops bedsores, the nursing home staff or caregivers must properly care for the condition before it worsens or becomes life threatening. Treatment should include properly tending to wounds, regularly changing wound dressings, applying pressure-relieving devices, and enhancing the patient’s diet with vitamins and other supplements to bolster their immune system.
Claiming Damages for Bedsores
Bedsores could potentially result in the death of a patient who develops them, so nursing home caregivers must ensure that they take preventive measures and treat bedsores effectively if and when they do develop. Any failure to do so may constitute a claim of negligence against them and entitle the victim to damages for injuries suffered. In some situations, bedsores can last for long periods and cause extreme pain for those who have them, and those individuals should not suffer due to irresponsible or neglectful treatment from their caregivers.
In extreme bedsore cases, the victim may die from infection, and their relatives can sue for wrongful death if the caregivers and nursing home did not take adequate steps to prevent the development of bedsores or failed to treat them effectively. As with other personal injury claims, proving negligence comes down to three factors:
- The offending party owed the victim of duty of care – in this situation, the nursing home had a duty to prevent bedsores from developing and to treat them if they did appear.
- The defendant failed in that duty of care, either willfully or through careless action.
- The victim’s suffering, injury, infection, and/or death were a direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care.
The law offices of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann have represented clients in the state of Missouri since 1912, and our team of legal experts knows how to navigate any type of personal injury case. We ensure that our clients are thoroughly represented for their entire legal process. Bedsores are extremely painful and dangerous, and nursing home staff and the individuals responsible for the care of bedridden patients are trained and expected to prevent them. If they fail to do so, we believe victims should not have to suffer for their careless actions. Reach out to our team if you want to start reviewing a case in the Springfield and Bolivar areas or have any questions about bedsores or complications that result from them.