It is not uncommon to hear about bedridden seniors developing bedsores, but many do not realize that many cases of bedsores stem from a caregiver’s neglect. With proper care, bedsores are often preventable. When caregivers fail to provide the care necessary to reduce the risk of this type of skin injury, they or the facility they work for may be liable for neglect and resulting damages.
What is a bedsore?
Bedsores are skin ulcers caused by pressure. Most commonly, these pressure sores occur on areas where skin stretches over bone. This includes around the tailbone and hips, as well as heels, ankles, and other areas. On seniors and others with limited mobility, these sores can occur on other areas as well.
Bedsores can vary in severity, from a minor area of red, irritated skin to a gaping wound that exposes underlying structures such as bone. When a bedsore includes a break in the skin, the risks associated with these injuries skyrocket. This is especially true in nursing homes and other care facilities where infections such as staph and MRSA are more common.
What causes these dangerous, painful injuries?
Prolonged pressure on a point on the body damages the skin by limiting blood flow to the area. Nursing home residents who remain active and mobile are rarely at risk for pressure sores, because they can change positions on their own when they become uncomfortable. Those who are bed-bound or require a wheelchair are at an increased risk for pressure-related skin injuries, because they often cannot change positions on their own.
How are bedsores preventable?
Frequent changes in position are the best way to prevent prolonged pressure and the pressure sores that may result. Caregivers should have training about repositioning bed-bound seniors to minimize the pressure on the most susceptible areas.
Caregivers also have a lot of other options to help prevent pressure-related injuries. This includes special mattresses and cushions, and tools to aid in repositioning. In addition, a routine to keep skin healthy and a proper diet can help prevent these sores.
Who is liable for this type of neglect?
Sometimes, pressure sores develop despite proper preventative care. However, they are often preventable. When this type of injury develops because the proper care was not offered, it is negligence.
In most cases, more than one caregiver provides care for a nursing home resident. If they all fail to uphold their duties, then this signals a larger problem with the culture of the facility.
Even if the breach occurs with a single caregiver, the nursing home may be liable because of vicarious liability, or because they failed to follow procedures when hiring and training qualified staff.
What should I do if I suspect a senior is suffering from neglect?
If your loved one develops bedsores and you believe it may be neglect, you should discuss your concerns with the senior’s doctor and the nursing home administrators. In addition, you need to report your suspicions to the proper state agency to launch an official investigation and protect others who may be suffering the same type of treatment.
Pennsylvania residents should call the Pennsylvania Department of Aging at 1-800-490-8505. In New Jersey, you can find the phone number for you county’s Adult Protective Services office online to file a report.
How can Cordisco & Saile LLC help my loved one recover from this type of neglect?
Cordisco & Saile LLC represents seniors who suffered neglect and other types of abuse at the hands of the caregivers they trusted. We are not afraid to take on nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, holding them liable for the financial losses your loved one suffered, as well as the physical and emotional pain they inflicted. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free case evaluation, call our Bucks County office at 215-642-2335.