Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse
According to the Stanford School of Medicine, 20% of Americans die in acute care hospitals and 20% die in nursing homes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that there were 15,600 nursing homes deaths in 2014. More than three years later, we can presume those numbers are on the rise. Just because we are living longer doesn’t mean we are living better.
So ,what happens when we become ill and require long-term care or an extended convalescent stay? Most likely, it’s off to the nursing home or acute care facility, and that can be cause for concern. We want to believe our loved one will get the proper, kind, and compassionate care and treatment that they deserve, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.
It’s no secret that nursing homes are under—and often inadequately—staffed. We have all heard the horror stories. What that means for your loved one is poor care. Nursing home neglect and abuse is a pervasive problem in our country and it is not getting any better. In fact, one of the most rampant forms of nursing home neglect and abuse are bed sores.
What is a Bed Sore?
A decubitus ulcer, also referred to as a bed sore or pressure ulcer, is caused by staying in one position for a prolonged period. The skin can die without enough blood flow, leaving a bed sore. This occurs when there is too much unrelieved pressure on the skin.
Bed sores are staged. Stage 1 is the least serious and only impacts the upper layer of the skin.
When a bed sore gets under your skin leaving the skin broken with an open wound it is classified as Stage 2. Once the sore has gone deeper into the skin and into the fat tissue it becomes a Stage 3 bed sore. By the time a bed sore reaches Stage 3, it may emit an order, ooze pus, or even turn black around the sore if the tissue has become necrotic. Necrosis is the result of tissue and cell death. The most severe type of bed sore is a Stage 4. This occurs when the sore has gone under the skin so deeply that you may be able to see bone and muscle.
Thinning skin and skin covering bony areas are more susceptible to bed sores. They can form on any part of the body, but most often begin on the spine, shoulder blades, legs, arms, heels and feet, and buttocks.
Some people are at a higher risk for developing bed sores than others. People with diabetes; mobility issues, such as a paraplegic; sensory perception deficits; poor nutrition and hydration; vascular disease; circulatory issues; and kidney disease are at a higher risk for developing bed sores. Common symptoms of a bed sore include skin discoloration, tenderness, pain, infection, open wounds, and pus-like drainage.
Bed sores can have very serious complications including osteomyelitis (bone infection); gangrene (bacteria that thrives in oxygen deprived areas of the body); necrotizing fasciitis (known as flesh-eating bacteria); and sepsis (blood infection). These can be life-threatening if not properly and timely treated.
Treatments for bed sores vary depending on the severity of the wound. Treatment can include cleaning and dressing the wound, debridement (removing dead tissue), medication therapy, or other interventions such as surgery. In some cases, amputation is a necessity.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 10 patients will get bed sores at one time or another. According to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, bed sores affect as many as 2.5 million patients per year, cost approximately $9.1 to $11.6 billion per year, and cause the deaths of approximately 60,000 people annually. These staggering numbers are incomprehensible because bed sores are completely preventable.
Preventing bed sores is not difficult. Frequently changing positions to relieve pressure on the skin, and/or placing a pillow between areas of skin that rub together can prevent the formation of a bed sore. Another preventative measure which is effective is to keep the skin clean and dry, and limit bathing to a few times per week. There are also affordable support devices to help relieve pressure on the skin, such as foam overlays, special air (pressure) mattresses, and chair cushions designed specifically to prevent bed sores.
There are too many reasons to opine in this forum why the healthcare system and its medical providers and caregivers fail those in need, and those who are most vulnerable. We know and understand what a difficult decision it is to entrust someone with the care of your loved one. We don’t however, understand how a medical provider or caregiver can neglect and abuse a person in a vulnerable position, and who often cannot speak for themselves. That is just one of the many reasons our experienced attorneys are dedicated to the pursuit of justice for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Call us today at 704-714-1450 if you believe your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home or other care facility.