Deciding to move a loved one into a nursing home can be an emotionally stressful process. Once the decision is made to pursue the option, the process of researching and comparing facilities takes time and patience. When the decision is made, you put your complete trust in the staff and medical personnel to provide quality care and attention to your elderly parent, relative, or friend. When this trust is broken, your loved one suffers the consequences.
Bedsores are pressure wounds that result from a breakdown in the skin. When elderly people are left to lie in bed or sit in a wheelchair for hours on end, these wounds can develop. Many become infected and create a multitude of health complications. What makes the situation worse is knowing that the bed sore could have been prevented with proper care and attention.
At Davis & Brusca, LLC, we are staunch advocates for nursing home residents and their loved ones. We work tirelessly to ensure that the legal rights of our clients are protected while holding those responsible for the nursing home abuse liable for their actions.
If your loved one develops a bed sore, also known as a pressure sore, it could be a sign that they are being neglected. Bedsores are almost always preventable. In some patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, bedsores or ulcers can be harder to treat, but with proper care and attention, bedsores should not become a chronic condition.
Bedsores can indicate several types of neglect. Many of these pressure wounds develop from positioning. If your loved one is confined to a bed or wheelchair for long periods of time, the bed sore can easily develop if the patient is not moved regularly. Even non-ambulatory patients can be moved from their back to either side, propped up with the aid of pillows or wedges, and repositioned to expose their skin for circulation and air.
Bedsores can also result from malnutrition and dehydration. If the patient is unable to feed themselves, they can quickly dehydrate and suffer the consequences of malnourishment if someone isn’t taking the time to assist them. Malnourishment and dehydration can make a wound harder to heal, which leaves the patient vulnerable to infection. Watch for signs of dry skin and weight loss as another sign of malnutrition and dehydration.
Incontinence is a common problem for elderly people. Some suffer from strictly urinary incontinence, while others experience bowel incontinence. Either form of incontinence requires diligent care and attention. Patients need to be cleaned and have their diapers changed regularly to avoid skin irritation that leads to bedsores. If bed sheets, blankets, or personal clothing become soiled, they need to be changed and laundered. If you notice that the patient has an odor or is sitting in soiled clothing or bedding, report this to the nurse and case manager immediately.
Families and close friends or relatives that visit a nursing home patient need to be vigilant for signs of nursing home abuse. If the patient complains of pain or discomfort, talk to the nurse or doctor in charge of their care. Investigate their complaint by looking at the area of discomfort and record what you see by picture or note. Inquire on the patient’s status frequently either by personal visit or phone call to the doctor or nurse in charge.
If you notice or suspect that your loved one is suffering from a bedsore due to neglect, you need to take immediate action. Ask your family member, if possible, how the nursing staff is caring for them. If this is not possible, then speak to a roommate, medical assistant, or activities coordinator. Ask questions of nurses, food handlers, and other visitors to see if the patient gets proper attention or nourishment.
The next step is to report your suspicions to the appropriate authority at the nursing home. If talking to the medical staff and nursing home management doesn’t improve the situation, then you need to contact a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer to pursue legal action.