Nursing Home Pressure Sores/Decubitus Ulcers Lawyer in New Mexico
Pressure sores, also known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers, are a common problem among nursing home residents. People with the highest risk of bedsores are those who spend most of their time in bed or in a chair or have medical conditions that limit their ability to change positions. Most pressure sores are preventable when nursing home caregivers take the time to properly reposition residents and implement other precautionary measures. Without proper care, bedsores can progress rapidly, creating the risk of sepsis or severe infections.
If your elderly loved has developed pressure sores in a nursing home, it may be a sign of neglect and negligence on the part of the facility and its staff. Contact the Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C. today at (903) 212-2822 for a free consultation to find out about your legal options.
As stated by the Mayo Clinic, there are three primary contributing factors to bedsores. Those factors are:
- Pressure: Constant pressure on a part of the body, as with sitting or lying in bed, lessens blood flow to the tissues. Blood flow is essential to deliver oxygen and nutrients, and without it, the skin and tissues become damaged and may die. In nursing home residents with limited mobility, this type of pressure occurs in areas that lie over bone and lack padding with muscle or fat. These areas include the shoulder blades, elbows, spine, hips, and tailbone.
- Friction: When the skin rubs against bedding or clothing, friction occurs. This makes the skin more susceptible to injury, particularly when it is moist. For this reason, it is crucial for nursing home caregivers to ensure that residents with limited mobility are kept dry.
- Shear: A shear is a strain in structure produced by pressure when layers are laterally shifted in relation to each other. If a bed is elevated at the head, the body tends to slide down the bed. When this happens, the skin over a bone may stay in place, creating pulling in opposite directions.
Older people in nursing homes with health conditions and limited mobility have a higher risk of developing pressure sores. Risk factors for this condition include:
- Immobility or limited mobility
- Lack of sensory perception (as with neurological disorders and spinal cord injuries)
- Poor hydration and nutrition
- Medical conditions affecting blood flow (such as diabetes and vascular disease)
For nursing home residents confined to a wheelchair, pressure sores are common in the following sites:
- Shoulder blades
- Backs of arms
- Backs of legs
Residents who are bedridden are more likely to develop bedsores in the following areas:
- Back or sides of the head
- Shoulder blades
- Lower back
- The skin behind the knees
Serious or life-threating complications can develop with pressure sores, which means that proper prevention and care in nursing homes is essential. Complications of decubitus ulcers include:
- Cellulitis: This is an infection of the skin and surrounding soft tissues. Cellulitis symptoms include warmth, redness, and swelling.
- Bone and joint infections: Infection caused by pressure sores can burrow into the bones and joints. Joint infections, technically known as septic arthritis, can damage tissue and cartilage. Bone infections (osteomyelitis) can cause reduced function of the limbs and joints.
- Sepsis: This is an extreme response of the body to an infection. When microorganisms enter the body through a pressure sore, it can trigger a chain reaction with life-threatening consequences. Without proper and rapid treatment, sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
- Cancer: Long-term pressure sores that don’t heal can develop into a type of skin cancer – squamous cell carcinoma.
Under federal regulations, nursing homes have extensive obligations to prevent and treat pressure sores in residents. When they fail to provide the basic care necessary to prevent bedsores, nursing homes may be liable for resulting injuries. Pursuant to federal regulations, if a resident enters a nursing home without pressure sores, he or she should not develop them unless it is clinically unavoidable. Nursing home staff are required to do everything possible to prevent bedsores. Once a decubitus ulcer has developed, nursing homes must provide proper care to avoid infection and to promote healing.
If nursing homes are negligent in preventing and treating bedsores, they may be liable for the resulting injuries. Types of negligence in preventing pressure sores that may lead to a claim for compensation include:
- Failure to regularly reposition a resident with mobility issues (to avoid leaving one part of the body bearing the resident’s weight for long periods)
- Failure to provide adequate toileting and changes of clothing and bedding for incontinent residents
- Failure to provide sufficient fluids and nutrition (as dehydration and malnutrition make the skin more vulnerable to injury)
When a pressure sore has already developed, nursing home staff should change the dressings regularly, apply wound treatments, use pressure-reducing devices, and administer nutritional supplements. Bedsores can progress and become infected, leading to serious or life-threatening complications. Failure to properly treat them may be grounds for a claim for damages based on negligence.
- At the Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C., our practice is focused exclusively on personal injury matters, including nursing home abuse and neglect.
- Attorney Dan Sorey has a master’s degree in business administration, in addition to his law degree, which gives us insight into the corporate perspective and an edge for our clients in nursing home abuse cases.
- Our lead attorney has extensive experience representing injured clients in a range of legal matters, including trials in five different states.
If your loved one has developed pressure sores or resulting complications in a nursing home, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyer right away. Connect with the Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C. to find out if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.
Schedule your free consultation by calling our Albuquerque Nursing Home Abuse lawyer at schedule a free consultation.
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