Was a Loved One Diagnosed with Bedsores from Nursing Home Abuse in Illinois? Call Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Springfield, IL for Help
One of the most common signs of nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence is a bedsore. Also known as a decubitus ulcer or pressure sore, a bedsore is an injury caused by continuous and excessive pressure or friction to a point on the body. This prolonged pressure can cause a breakdown in tissue and result in damage, often leading to an infection. Bedsores are considered “never events” because they are generally easy to prevent and recognize the early symptoms before they cause too much damage. Unfortunately, our experienced nursing home abuse lawyers in Springfield, Illinois know that preventable bedsores from nursing home abuse occur all too often.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that almost 160,000 nursing home residents develop bedsores each year in the United States. This number does not include patients in hospitals or residents in other facilities like assisted living, adult care, or other homes, meaning that the actual number of residents or patients with bedsores is likely higher.
If you or a loved one suffered any type of bedsore, pressure ulcer, or another type of skin-related injury due to prolonged laying down or sitting in a bed, wheelchair, chair, or another apparatus, call the Noll Law Office to speak with one of their compassionate and dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers in Springfield, Illinois. They offer free consultations and case evaluations, and they can answer your difficult questions surrounding your care or your loved one’s care. All contacts are privileged and confidential, and at no cost to you or your family. To learn more, contact the Noll Law Office today at (217) 414-8889.
Who is at Risk for a Bedsore?
Everyone is at risk for a bedsore. It does not matter whether you are a young child or a healthy adult, prolonged exposure to constant pressure at the same points of the body can cause a breakdown in tissue that can lead to a bedsore.
However, nursing home residents over the age of 64 were more likely to develop bedsores, and those with recent weight loss were significantly more likely to have bedsores. Other risk factors include the following:
- Residents with high immobility
- Those taking more than eight medications
- Those with recent bowel or bladder incontinence
- Residents who have cognitive impairments
- Poor hygiene in the facility
- Lack of proper nutrition and food
- Inadequate hydration
- Advanced age
- Lack of activities that get residents up at nursing homes
- Excessive heat in nursing homes (causing perspiration)
- Those with circulation or clotting disorders
- Lack of changes in clothing
- Infrequent showering or bathing
- Those with diabetes
- Failure to check residents for the early warning signs of pressure sores, and
- Other risk factors commonly are caused by nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence.
What Bedsores Are Due to Nursing Home Neglect and How Do Bedsores Occur
Bedsores occur after constant pressure against the skin limits blood flow. This pressure combined with friction can damage skin tissue. Not only can this damage the outer layer of skin, but the constant pressure can also damage the inner layers of tissue. When the skin tissue becomes damaged, it can lead to infection. This infection can become necrotic, actively eating away at otherwise healthy tissue. An infection that is not timely addressed can result in sepsis, which is the body’s powerful reaction to an infection that can cause catastrophic injury or wrongful death.
Elderly patients in nursing homes are at a high risk of bedsores because they may have limited mobility, often require extra protein in their diets, and, due to age and other conditions, typically have extremely fragile skin that is easily injured. This requires staff to ensure they do not stay in the same position for extended periods of time, whether in bed or in a wheelchair.
Areas that are not well-padded with fat or muscle, or areas that lie directly over a bone (sacrum, heels, shoulders, etc.) are more likely to develop bedsores. Friction between the skin and other surfaces can damage the skin, so transfers of the resident can have specific requirements. Poor nutrition, as well as medical conditions affecting blood flow, can also contribute to the development of bedsores.
Understanding the Stages of Bedsores Due to Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect, and Negligence
There are four stages of bedsores which vary in severity. Eventually, bedsores can become unstageable. Stage 1 bedsores are the least damaging, whereas stage 4 bedsores are incredibly dangerous. There are specific diagnostic techniques that nursing home staff are to use in assessing pressure sores. The National Pressure Injury Advisory Board has published specific guidelines relating to pressure wounds and recently redefined pressure injuries, providing clearer guidance to medical practitioners and lay persons in the prevention and assessment of pressure wounds.
Technically speaking, there are approximately 19 “stages” of a pressure wound that may exist, but most practitioners use an abbreviated scale of four general stages that have been defined as follows by the National Pressure Injury Advisory Board. Thus, these are the four stages that are used by healthcare providers in assessing bedsores in hospitals and nursing homes.
The four states of bedsores from nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence include the following:
Stage 1 Bedsore
This is the least severe grade of a bedsore and is characterized by redness or discoloration without skin tearing. The skin may be harder or softer than normal due to the excessive pressure on it. Generally, a stage 1 bedsore is warmer than the surrounding skin. However, it may also be cooler due to the restricted blood flow from the continued pressure on the resident’s tissue. The bedsore can also be painful and itchy, indicating that there is some type of injury.
At this stage, a stage 1 bedsore can be treated by shifting the resident’s body to release the pressure. The area should begin to resume normal circulation. But if the area remains red or stays warm, medical attention may be needed.
One test to check if the red area is a bedsore is called “blanching.” If you press down on the area of the skin, it should turn white and return to normal color after the pressure is released. But if the area does not turn white when pressed on, it may be a bedsore that requires medical attention. For individuals with darker skin tones, the area should still turn a lighter color than the surrounding skin. If the skin does not change any color, lighter or darker (including a purple or red hue), it may be a bedsore and should be evaluated.
Stage 2 Bedsore
The next highest level of bedsores is a stage 2 bedsore. This stage is characterized by more obvious irritation or damage to the skin. This includes blisters, torn skin, or an open wound or sore. Most stage 2 bedsores appear to be red and pink or red and purple, depending on the natural color of a person’s skin. The skin around the blister or the sore is often red and irritated too. Most stage 2 bedsores are quite painful.
One of the hallmarks of a stage 2 bedsore is a sore that is often moist. That could be due to the friction on the skin which has torn the skin, or it could be from a blister which has ruptured. Any time a bedsore is showing signs of moisture, it is likely advancing into the second stage.
The largest risk of a stage 2 bedsore is an infection. Although the tear in the skin may only be minor or appear to be on the surface, an infection can still begin and quickly accelerate the damage. A stage 2 bedsore can be successfully treated with minimal long-term effects and damage, but it must be treated immediately when first detected.
Stage 3 Bedsore
When a resident has a stage 3 bedsore, it often means that there was nursing home abuse or neglect. A stage 3 bedsore means that the damage has progressed through the different layers of skin and is progressing into the fatty layer. An infection is usually already present and sepsis is an increasing risk.
The symptoms of a stage 3 bedsore are much more obvious because there is often a physical crater present. This crater is formed due to a combination of excessive pressure, but also an infection. The surrounding tissue may also show signs of infection and damage, including red edges, oozing, black tissue (dead tissue), white/yellow tissue (very damaged and infected, often irreparably damaged), or other drainage. Bleeding is common too, as well as pus. There is often an unpleasant smell with stage 3 bedsores.
Treatment for this grade of bedsore must be immediate and often includes from the type of medical procedure to remove dead tissue. When a bedsore gets to this stage, a nursing home or healthcare provider has likely already failed the patient. There is also an added issue of ignoring a patient’s complaints, as stage 3 bedsores are often excruciating.
Stage 4 Bedsores
Once a bedsore has progressed to this stage, it is a medical emergency and is often life-threatening. Residents with a stage 4 bedsore will often suffer permanent damage due to the negligence of a healthcare provider or nursing home. This is because the pressure sore has extended beyond the skin and fat layers, and has progressed into the muscle layer or beyond. Stage 4 bedsores can cause damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, and other structures. The damage is often irreparable and a resident requires surgery.
Residents with stage 4 bedsores also are at high risk for sepsis. This is the response that a person’s body releases to fight an infection that has not been treated properly. Sepsis is very caustic and can damage nerves or blood vessels in the body, or put a person in septic shock which could be fatal very quickly. Even if a resident recovers from a stage 4 bedsore and sepsis, injuries such as peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the fingers and toes) are common. In some extreme cases, the resident may need to have fingers, toes, feet, ankles, or even portions of their leg or arm amputated.
Any resident who suffers a stage 4 bedsore is highly likely to have been a victim of nursing home abuse, neglect, or negligence. There are really no medically acceptable reasons why a resident would suffer a stage 4 bedsore except for negligence. Common defenses such as the victim being in a coma, unconscious, or otherwise nonverbal also are not acceptable, although defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will often use that as an acceptable defense. That’s why you need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Springfield to protect your rights to compensation under Illinois law.
Medical Complications from Bedsores from Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Due to the fact that older adults have thinner skin, less mobility, and may also have other concurrent health issues, bedsore complications can be severe, even fatal. Nursing home employees must not only be trained to take the appropriate steps to prevent bedsores, but also identify these injuries in a timely manner and treat them appropriately to prevent further complications. They should notify medical providers with advanced training in wound care, such as wound care nurses and wound care physicians, for guidance in treating the wounds as well.
Infection can be extremely serious, with patients developing bone infections (osteomyelitis), sepsis, and other life-threatening conditions. The quality of life for these patients can become extremely poor due to the pain caused by advanced pressure wounds, leading to depression and prolonged hospital stays.
Are There Other Injuries Related to Nursing Home Bedsores?
There can be. Any resident developing bedsores should be immediately evaluated by a competent physician and wound nurse. A plan of care should be developed to treat existing wounds and to prevent additional wounds from developing.
What Should I Do if I Suspect That a Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
If you have reason to suspect nursing home abuse, you must take immediate action. If you believe your loved one is in imminent danger, call 911. But if you are unsure whether nursing home abuse or neglect is present in the first place, remain calm as you question the nursing home staff and management about signs of suspected abuse. Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health and file a complaint. IDPH staff can interview the nursing home staff, review the medical records, and conduct a comprehensive investigation into whether abuse and neglect occurred.
Talk to your loved one privately. Oftentimes dementia and other medical conditions make it difficult for residents to explain nursing home injuries, including pressure wounds. If staff in any way try to limit your private conversation, it is an immediate red flag.
Take photographs of any injuries or wounds. In this way, if a medical record is altered by nursing home staff to minimize the wound in records, you have an accurate reflection of what the wound actually appeared as. Request a copy of the resident’s medical records, so that if it is altered later by nursing home staff, you have a copy of what the records contained, originally.
Simply put, your loved ones are entitled to protection. If you suspect abuse or neglect, the lawyers at the Noll Law Office are happy to meet with you to provide a free initial consultation. The local, central Illinois attorneys have an office in Springfield, Illinois, directly across the street from the courthouse. The Noll Law Office attorneys are experienced and will not hand off your file to a newly graduated associate lawyer or paralegal to process. Their law firm is from the community, for the community. Consult an experienced nursing home abuse attorney from the Noll Law Office if you think your loved one is a victim. The firm does not charge a fee unless it is able to successfully obtain a settlement or a jury verdict against the nursing home.
How Do I Choose the Best Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Me?
You need a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer who not only understands the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act but also has extensive experience litigating these cases. Nursing home abuse victims and their loved ones may need to share sensitive information with their attorney—and should feel comfortable doing so. Select an attorney who can provide you with compassionate counsel, while simultaneously providing aggressive representation. You need a lawyer who seeks justice for the victims of abuse and neglect.
Attorneys Sarah Noll and Daniel Noll are fifth-generation Springfield attorneys who believe strongly in treating their neighbors like neighbors. You will work with experienced personal injury attorneys directly throughout the litigation process. They are experienced in looking through medical records and nursing home policies to use the nursing home’s own practice and procedures to verify if the facility even followed its own internal practices in providing care to your loved one.
Do My Loved One’s Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Symptoms Mean I Have a Case?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. Perhaps the single most comforting thing about obtaining a nursing home attorney is that you can often obtain answers to your questions, that would otherwise go unanswered. Sometimes, nursing home injuries are just that – an unfortunate accident with injuries. Other times, abuse or neglect is involved.
Retaining an experienced nursing home attorney will help you to make sense of the medical records, agency investigative reports, and governing law so that at minimum, you can make informed decisions on moving forward with a potential case and deciding whether to file a claim for abuse and neglect. Nursing home cases can involve elder abuse, financial exploitation, negligent hiring practices, violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, medical malpractice, breach of contract, or wrongful death and survival actions, depending on the facts and circumstances of your loved one’s case.
This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for you and your loved one—you deserve an experienced attorney that can help you make sense of all of the legal technicalities and help represent your loved one following abuse or neglect. Let the Noll Law Office help you.
Did You or a Loved One Suffer Bedsores from Nursing Home Abuse in Springfield, IL? The Noll Law Office Can Help You
The Noll Law Office believes that frequent, honest communication with their clients, advanced medical records review and aggressive litigation experience are the key indicators of a successful outcome in nursing home litigation. As highly successful litigators, the Noll Law Office provides quality representation to their clients. At the Noll Law Office, their nursing home abuse lawyers take pride in their deep roots and shared history with community members and neighbors — their family will fight for yours. Contact the Noll Law Office today to meet directly with an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case today.