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“I hired a nursing home to take care of my Dad, but now he was taken to the hospital with pressure sores, and the doctor says maybe he was abused, what are my legal options?”

Hi, I’m Katelyn Holub, a personal injury attorney practicing law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from someone who contacted us via our website whose dad resides at a nursing home.   His dad was taken from the nursing home to the hospital after he developed pressure sores, or what some people refer to as bedsores. He was told by a doctor that his dad was perhaps the victim of nursing home abuse, and so he would like to know if the family would have the right to sue the nursing home.

Unfortunately, we hear situations more and more frequently about nursing home failures with regard to abuse and with regard to pressure sores, or bedsores. These situations are appalling.

When we look for places to take care of someone that we care about we all try to do whatever research we can to see that that place does a good job of taking care of those patients who have been entrusted to them.

Sadly, sometimes these nursing homes do not live up to our expectations and they fail to care for some of society’s most vulnerable people. 

The pressure to cut costs, the lack of solid employee training, along with the fact that the nursing home industry has a high employee turnover rate can result in substandard patient care that puts patients’ health and lives at risk.  But that in no way excuses the appalling facts of nursing home neglect and abuse.

Ever so quickly, a nursing home that a son or daughter legitimately thought would be a safe place for their ailing parent to receive care… a place that they should have been able to trust … can wind up being a place that fails to care of its patients like we would all expect and desire.

Now getting back to our listener’s question . . . let’s take a look at the condition that is known as a pressure sore or a bedsore.  Bedsores can be preventable, but the right kind of risk assessment and practical techniques health care workers can utilize.

Just like health care facilities assess and address whether a patient is a fall risk to him or herself, health care facilities and nursing homes should also assess and address a patient’s risk of developing pressure sores.

A health care facility, whether it be a hospital or nursing home or other long-term care facility, should be giving a patient a pressure sore risk assessment within 8 hours of admission. These assessments often are scored by what is known as a Braden Score, which looks at several criteria, including a patient’s mobility. The lower the score, the more at risk the patient is for developing pressure sores. 

Facilities should be reassessing a patient at regular and frequent intervals after admission, and whenever there is a significant change in the condition of the patient.

So, when we look at records to see if a facility has breached the standard of care, one of the things we look at is whether a proper assessment was regularly done.

Then if pressure sores were noted as a risk, we looks to see if steps were taken to eliminate them or prevent them.

The primary way to avoid pressure sores is to move a patent frequently so that the patient’s skin is not made to suffer sustained pressure for too long of a time.

For example, patients can be physically moved on a regular basis or placed on special mattresses that are designed to prevent pressure wounds.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.