Bed sores can develop in patients who do not get the proper medical care and treatment while they are bedridden or wheelchair bound and unable to change their position. Bed sores are a common result of nursing home neglect, as a patient may develop bed sores if s/he is not turned frequently, if s/he is malnourished, and if proper hygiene practices are not followed.
Because bed sores are a sign of nursing home neglect, patients who develop bed sores or family members of patients who are affected generally may take legal action against the nursing home to obtain compensation for losses. To do so, however, there must be documentation of the bed sores.
Documenting Bed Sores
A patient who develops bed sores should be examined by an experienced physician who can document his or her medical condition and who would be willing to provide this information in support of a nursing home abuse or neglect case. Typically, this means the patient should be examined by a doctor or healthcare provider not associated with the nursing home where the patient was receiving care.
The doctor who examines the patient with bed sores should take note of many different things to ensure there is sufficient information about the health issues the patient was having. For example, the following information should be included in a report on the bed sores:
- The stage of the bed sores: Bed sores can progress through four stages, with Stage IV the most serious and potentially fatal.
- The size of the bed sores, including the length, width and depth of the sores.
- A description of any undermining tunneling or sinus tracking. Tunneling refers to tissue destruction underneath intact skin, while sinus tracking refers to the pathway of dead space extending in any direction from the wound.
- A description of any discharge that is coming from the bed sores.
- A description of the wound bed of the tissue in the wound. For example, is there necrotic tissue, granulated tissue or has epithelialization occurred.
- A description of the edges of the wound and of what surrounding tissue looks like.
- A description of rashes, warmth or pain.
- Information about underlying medical problems or conditions that affect healing.
Obtaining all of this information is very important because a patient must prove the extent of harm in a nursing home abuse or neglect case. When an injured patient or family member takes legal action against the nursing home, the patient must demonstrate that the home was negligent and must show how badly this lack of care damaged him. The more evidence there is of the serious medical harm and the more information there is about the pain endured, the stronger the case. Having photographs taken of the bed sores is also invaluable to your case.
A nursing home abuse or neglect attorney will advise you on the types of evidence and documentation you need, so be sure to contact an attorney right away if you or a loved one has developed bed sores due to nursing home neglect.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.