A Closer Look at Nursing Home Bedsore Injuries

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

Pressure ulcers affect about a fourth of all residents in long-term care facilities. If detected and addressed very early, bedsores are usually not a problem at all. However, even a slight diagnosis or treatment delay could mean that these injuries become life-threatening. 

Bedsores are particularly serious if the resident has a pre-existing condition, and in most cases, that’s true. Indeed, most residents are only at the facility because of a prior injury or illness.

At the most basic level, nursing home negligence usually causes bedsore injuries. As a result, a Lexington personal injury lawyer can normally obtain substantial compensation for these victims. But financial compensation is just part of the picture. 

Perhaps more importantly, attorneys obtain justice for these victims. Legal action often prompts nursing homes to change the way they do business. These alterations usually prevent other residents from becoming victims themselves.

What Causes Dangerous Pressure Ulcers?

Bedsores could affect anyone, regardless of age, infirmity, or anything else. These wounds are especially common on bony parts of the body, such as the ankles, knees, and buttocks. As long as people turn over in bed about once every two hours, bedsores are not a problem.

Unfortunately, many nursing home residents cannot turn themselves over in bed. Some are too physically frail to rotate themselves. Others are so heavily medicated that sleeping is more like being in a coma. These residents depend entirely on nursing home staff to turn them over in bed. But such help is often unavailable.

At many short-staffed nursing homes, no one makes regular rounds at night. Instead, rounds are only sporadic. Understaffing also affects the number of employees. It’s relatively easy for two or three people to turn over a resident in bed. It’s almost impossible for one worker to do so.

Furthermore, as a result of understaffing, some long-term care facilities use underqualified employees. For example, a Patient Care Technician might perform rounds instead of a Licensed Vocational Nurse. PCTs do not have the same level of training as LVNs. Therefore, techs often cannot spot early stage bedsores or appreciate their significance.

On a related note, understaffing often causes unsafe bed rail placement. If no one is watching residents, staff often slides their bed rails all the way up. That configuration could cause asphyxiation. Additionally, the helpless resident could get caught in the space between the bed and the safety rail.

Establishing Liability

The standard of care is usually important in nursing home neglect matters. As mentioned, industry standards require bed repositioning every two hours. If the facility did not meet that standard, the facility was arguably negligent.

Evidence on this point usually includes rounding records. Nursing homes are required to keep such records. However, attorneys must typically obtain court orders to inspect and copy them.

Resolving a Claim

After an attorney gathers evidence in support of a claim, an attorney usually sends a demand letter to the insurance company. The victim/plaintiff agrees to drop the claim if the insurance company pays a financial settlement. This settlement usually includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

To determine a fair amount of compensation for noneconomic losses, most attorneys multiply the economic damages by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case.

It’s important to not settle the claim too quickly. If the financial settlement does not reflect all the victim/plaintiff’s current and future medical bills, the victim might lose the right to reopen the case. As one of my law professors said, you only get one trip to the salad bar of justice.

So, many bedsore claims settle during mediation. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. These out-of-court settlements are good for victims. They reduce the time involved and give victims more control over the outcome.

A few moments of neglect could cause a serious bedsore injury. For a free consultation with an experienced nursing home negligence lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Offices, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.