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Arizona Nursing Home Bed Sores Lawyer
Anyone whose mobility is hampered or who is confined to a bed or wheelchair is at risk of developing bed sores (also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers). These wounds are serious injuries that can lead to sepsis, infection and death. Our attorneys have extensive experience in addressing these injuries through legal action.
Bed Sores in Nursing Homes
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect: Bed Sores and Pressure Ulcers
Anyone whose mobility is hampered or who is confined to a bed or wheelchair is at risk of developing bedsores (also called pressure sores or decubitus ulcers) which are categorized into 4 stages depending on their condition. Bedsores—particularly Stage 4 bedsores—are often a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect.
While any bedsore is cause for concern, if your loved one develops a stage 4 bedsore it can cause serious complications—including sepsis, infection, and death.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in addressing these injuries through legal action.
If you suspect abuse or neglect from your loved one’s nursing facility, contact Arizona’s leading bedsore lawyers at Nursing Home Advocates for a free consultation.
What is a Bedsore?
Bedsores are areas of damaged skin and tissue that develop from prolonged pressure in one area, usually from laying or sitting for extensive periods of time. Bedsores typically develop where the most pressure is placed when in a bed or wheelchair—often on the head, buttocks, hips, spine, elbows, and heels.
Signs and Symptoms of Bedsores
Mild bedsores can develop in as little as a few hours and will continue to get worse if they go undetected for days or weeks.
If you suspect neglect of your loved one, it can be helpful to know some basic signs and symptoms of bedsores, which include:
- An area of skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
- Unusual changes in skin color or texture
- Pus-like drainage
- Tender areas
If you observe any of the signs on this list, contact nursing staff to help facilitate proper medical care.
Stages of Bedsores
Depending on their severity, bedsores are categorized into four stages.
Stage 1 Bedsores
Stage 1 bedsores are usually more superficial than other bedsores at other stages because the skin is still intact. They will typically heal in just a few days after relieving the pressure and cleaning the sore with soap and water.
Symptoms of Stage 1 Bedsores:
- A painful persistent area of red skin
- Skin is warm or spongy to the touch
- Can develop in just a few hours
- May have blue or purple cast on darker skin
- Easily remedied with movement to relieve the pressure
Stage 2 Bedsores
When bedsores progress to stage 2, typically some skin loss has occurred, and it will be more painful. Stage 2 bedsores are usually healed with swift, careful medical attention.
Symptoms of Stage 2 Bedsores:
- Open wound
- Looks similar to a blister
- Surrounding tissues may be red or purple
- Often appear as craters surrounded by fat deposits
Stage 3 Bedsores
By stage three, bedsores cause deep tissue damage that is extremely difficult to heal. Without immediate and continuous medical attention, they can quickly progress to stage 4.
Symptoms of Stage 3 Bedsores:
- Deep, crater-like wound
- Surrounded by dead, yellow-ish tissue
- Sometimes reaches into the muscle
- Typically requires antibiotics
Stage 4 Bedsores
Stage 4 bedsores usually develop from untreated bedsores in the other stages—a significant red flag for elderly abuse or neglect in a nursing home. If your loved one is properly cared for at their nursing facility, they should never develop stage 4 bedsores. These types of bedsores rarely happen by accident and your loved one’s nursing facility should be held accountable if this happens.
Stage 4 bedsores cause extreme complications that can take anywhere from three months to four years to heal—and typically some symptoms remain for the rest of an elderly person’s life.
Help your loved one receive immediate medical attention if they have any of the following symptoms of a stage 4 bedsore:
- An open wound that may not bleed and emits a foul odor
- Skin that has darkened or turned black
- Exposed muscle, ligament,or bone
- Infection and pus oozing from the sore
Causes and Risk Factors of Bedsores
Every nursing home resident should have a risk assessment form on file with their nursing home that includes conditions that could contribute to the development of bedsores if not addressed.
Below are some of the most common issues and conditions that increase the risk of bedsores in nursing home patients:
- Immobility—If a resident can’t walk or get up on their own, they may develop bedsores if nursing staff neglects to help them reposition or move throughout the day.
- Incontinence—This condition can cause the skin to become more vulnerable if nursing home staff do not do their best to prevent extended exposure to urine and stool. Nursing home residents with incontinence should be closely monitored and bathed frequently.
- Inability to accurately assess pain—Nursing home residents may have decreased sensory ability which requires staff to more frequently check for potential causes of pain or existing sores and wounds.
- Poor nutrition or hydration—Without essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, skin becomes more fragile and susceptible to wounds. Nursing home abuse may be the culprit if your loved one is dehydrated or malnourished.
- Diabetes and heart disease—These conditions affect the vascular system and could limit proper circulation, decreasing the health of the skin and limiting the body’s ability to heal itself. Special care should be taken to ensure residents receive proper medications and are regularly assessed for bedsores.
Health Outcomes of Bedsores
Most bedsores should heal with proper medical attention and increased care to minimize the risk of pressure building on the sore and making it worse. But if left untreated—especially if wounds progress to stage 4—bedsores may cause serious complications such as:
- Cellulitis. This is an infection within the skin and connected soft tissues. This infection causes warmth, inflammation, and swelling. It is treated with antibiotics.
- Bone and joint infections. If the infection is left untreated long enough, it may seep into bones and joints. Bone infections can significantly reduce the function of joints and limbs. Joint infections (also referred to as septic arthritis) can damage cartilage and tissues.
- Cancer. Long-term, non healing wounds (Marjolin’s ulcers) can develop into a type of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Sepsis. This is an infection that can start in a bedsore before traveling throughout the body. Sepsis is often a fatal infection that usually results from stage 4 bedsores.
- Death. A combination of any of the complications above (and others not listed) may result in the death of an elderly individual with bedsores.
What to Do if You Think a Bedsore is the Result of Abuse or Neglect
The development of bedsores is an all-to-common sign of nursing home abuse or neglect, and your loved one’s facility should be held responsible. If you suspect your loved one has developed bedsores because of neglect or abuse, we encourage you to seek legal action.
If your nursing home abuse lawsuit is successful, you will likely receive monetary compensation for the following:
- Emotional suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Other costs
Under certain circumstances, you may also be able to recover punitive damages (which punish the nursing home for wrongdoing).
At Solomon & Relihan, we are here to help you navigate the legal system and seek justice for any nursing home abuse experienced by your loved one. Our Phoenix law firm has been representing personal injury victims since 1974, limiting our practice to nursing home and assisted living abuse and neglect cases.
Solomon & Relihan offers decades of experience and in-depth knowledge surrounding elderly abuse and neglect if you’re looking for a nursing home bedsore lawyer in Arizona. Contact us for a FREE case review and analysis today!
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