Bed Sores and Pressure Ulcers: When Are These Preventable Conditions Malpractice?

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Surgeons team working with Monitoring of patient in surgical operating room. breast augmentation

Surgeons team working with Monitoring of patient in surgical operating room. breast augmentation

No one expects to enter a hospital or care facility and get sicker. Unfortunately, many older adults develop complications like pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, during longer stays in the hospital or nursing home. For many years, these pressure ulcers were viewed as an inevitable part of long-term bed rest. Now, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals recognize that most bed sores can be prevented, leading to a rise in medical malpractice lawsuits.

How Does A Pressure Ulcer Develop?

Pressure ulcers occur when a part of the body faces constant pressure over a long period of time. While most people are not injured by lying in bed, staying in one position for days or weeks at a time creates an enormous amount of pressure on the areas of the body in contact with the bed.

When parts of the body are compressed, blood flow to the skin and muscles is restricted. Without adequate blood flow, the skin and other tissues do not receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and will begin to die. This area then becomes an open wound, which is very painful and often takes weeks, if not months, to heal. Once areas in the skin or muscle have died off, it can be very difficult for the body to repair itself.

Pressure ulcers are most likely to develop on bony areas of the body, like on the feet or ankles, or under the hip bones. This makes them extremely prevalent among the elderly, because older adults have thinner skin and less muscle and fat to pad the blood vessels. For these people, pressures ulcers can develop rapidly and with little warning.

Can Bed Sores Be Prevented?

Medical staff should be trained in the risk factors for pressure ulcers, and can take steps to prevent bed sores from occurring. These steps can include:

  • Moving or turning the patient often,
  • Using mattresses or mattress pads designed to relieve constant pressure,
  • Checking the skin frequently for signs of bed sores,
  • Keeping patients clean and dry,
  • Providing patients with adequate nutrition and hydration, and
  • Using effective wound care methods to treat pressure ulcers in the early stages.

Pressure ulcers start small and can grow if left untreated. A bed sore in the early stages may heal within several weeks if treated properly and quickly. When a pressure ulcer develops into a stage III or stage IV ulcer, the wound often needs to be debrided to remove dead tissue and allow the skin to heal. This process is extremely painful, and may require several surgeries.

Is It Malpractice?

Not every pressure ulcer is preventable, but the majority are. Most pressure ulcer lawsuits stem from nursing home facilities, hospices, or hospitals which failed to adequately care for their patients. When patients are neglected or not moved often, the doctors and nurses in charge of their health may be responsible for medical negligence.

Determining whether a pressure ulcer was inevitable or was a result of negligence can require a complicated medical and legal investigation. If you or your loved one suffered a pressure ulcer that you believe was preventable, you need a medical malpractice attorney who understands both the medicine and the law. Dr. Bradley I. Kramer is both a medical doctor and a lawyer, and has the unique expertise you need on your side to fight for adequate compensation after an accident or injury.

For a free consultation, contact Dr. Kramer today by calling (310) 289-2600 or use our online case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.

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