Bedsores – A Shocking Example of Neglect

BedsoreThe attorneys at The Gebler Firm understand how devastating a bedsore can be.  We see the following story far too often:  An elderly person is admitted to the hospital for treatment of an illness or injury.  The patient’s condition is stabilized and the patient is transferred to a nursing home or rehabilitation center for physical therapy.  It is expected that the patient  will return home in a few weeks.  While at the facility, the patient complains of a little low back pain or numbness, but not enough to alert friends or family that there is any cause for concern.  During visits, the patient always seems to be lying or sitting in the same position.  However, the family naturally assumes the patient is regularly helped out of bed and given rehabilitation therapy.  No one suspects that instead of encouraging the patient to get out of bed, the staff never turns or repositions the patient, and consistently leaves the patient lying on his/her back or sitting alone in a wheelchair for hours at a time.  Because of this, a small stage 1 or 2 bedsore develops. The staff does not notice it because they are not conducting routine skin checks.  In some cases, the staff may have noticed the bedsore but tells the family that there is “nothing to worry about.”   The patient isn’t complaining because the nerves around the bedsore are now dead.  The family eventually receives an abrupt telephone call from the facility, informing them that their loved one was transferred to the emergency room because the patient was “experiencing a little trouble breathing.”   Once the family arrives at the hospital, they are horrified to learn that the patient has a severely infected stage 4 bedsore, which is the size of an orange or grapefruit, and that it has progressed to the bone.   Because prompt treatment was not provided, the infection has spread throughout the body and vital organs have begun to fail.  The doctors explain that nothing can be done to reverse the damage, but they will keep the patient as comfortable as possible.  The patient dies a few days later.

Unfortunately, this story is a common one.  Bedsores are preventable.  This tragedy – and the many others we see daily – could have ended differently if the facility had simply hired staff who were trained to provide the minimum care required by federal and state nursing home laws.

If you are interested in learning more about bedsores and what can be done to prevent them from developing or progressing to a life-threatening stage, you are invited to review one or more of the following articles:

What are bedsores or pressure ulcers and how do they develop?

Where on the body are bedsores most likely to develop?

What can I do to prevent this from happening?

When is a bedsore the result of neglectful care?

What can I do if I think my loved one developed a pressure sore because of neglect?

Return to List of Areas of Neglect and Abuse

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. None of the medical information is intended to be a substitute for professional medical judgment. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

Injured Elder