Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Bed Sores?
A bedsore is a painful and potentially life-threatening ulcer that occurs most often in people with mobility problems, such as nursing home residents who are bedridden or use wheelchairs. Bedsores are almost always preventable with proper care of the nursing home resident or a patient in a hospital. If a resident develops a bedsore, the nursing home may be held liable for its part in failing to prevent this serious type of ulcer. Read on to learn more about suing a nursing home for bed sores and if you have additional questions, speak with a qualified Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyer.
What Are Bedsores?
A bedsore is also known as a pressure ulcer, as it develops due to too much pressure on one area of the body for a prolonged period of time. When a nursing home resident is unable to move or switch positions on his or her own, it is important for caregivers and nursing home staff members to turn the resident on a consistent schedule. This relieves pressure on parts of the body that come into contact with the bed or wheelchair the most, such as the heels, backs of the knees, buttocks, tailbone, shoulder blades and back of the head.
Factors that can increase the risk of developing a bedsore include:
- Poor blood circulation
- Resident immobility
- Failure to reposition the resident
- Wet or damp skin (lack of proper hygiene)
- Friction against the skin from sheets
- Unsanitary conditions
If there is no relief of pressure on the body due to the neglect of a caregiver to turn or exercise the resident, the reduced blood flow can damage or eventually kill the tissues there. If left untreated, a bedsore can become a severe and even fatal medical condition, impacting the deeper tissues, muscles and bones. Common complications associated with bedsores include deeper abscesses, inflammation, bacteria entering the bloodstream, sepsis, bone and joint infections, and death.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Nursing Home Neglect?
Bedsores are a potential sign of resident neglect at a nursing home or long-term living facility in Los Angeles. This means that the facility can face legal liability for a patient or resident developing a bedsore. If another nursing home would have done something differently to prevent the bedsore, such as properly training its employees or keeping schedules of when to turn immobile residents, the nursing home could be held legally responsible for a bedsore and related health complications.
To have grounds for a lawsuit against a nursing home for a bedsore, you or your lawyer generally must show evidence of the following four elements:
- A duty of care was established between the defendant and plaintiff; the nursing home had a responsibility to properly care for its residents.
- Breach of the duty of care. The nursing home or a staff member failed to properly address the resident’s physical and medical needs.
- Causation. The defendant’s failure to uphold the duty of care caused or significantly contributed to the development of the bedsore.
- Damages. The nursing home’s breach of duty led to compensable damages for the victim, such as injury, medical bills, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.
These are the four elements of negligence. Negligence and neglect are similar in meaning but not exactly alike. Negligence is the failure to meet a standard of care, or a lack of due diligence. Neglect is a passive form of abuse. A nursing home in California could be sued for neglect and/or negligence in connection to a resident’s bedsore or infection.
Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a bedsore after a stay of any length at a nursing home in Los Angeles, contact an attorney for a free consultation. You may have the right to sue the nursing home for failing to properly take care of you or your relative. A successful lawsuit could pay for related expenses and damages, allowing your family to move forward with greater financial peace of mind. It can also hold a negligent nursing home accountable, pushing for changes on an institutional level to protect future residents and patients.