elder abuse attorneyYou made the difficult decision that was right for your loved one. Together, you decided that your loved one would be safest and most comfortable in a nursing home or a medical facility. You chose a nursing home or medical facility that you believed could meet your loved one’s needs. Unfortunately, the nursing home did just the opposite, and your loved one suffered serious bedsores or a dangerous infection.

People residing in nursing homes or medical facilities may be at greater risk of infections and bedsores for several reasons. For example, many people are living in close quarters who have compromised immune systems. This may allow infections to spread quickly. Likewise, many people are unable to change positions themselves and who need a lot of physical assistance. This can make bedsores more likely.

However, neither bedsores nor infections are an inevitable part of a nursing home or medical facility stay. Instead, bedsores and infections can be prevented when these facilities are appropriately staffed with trained personnel who follow proper procedures.

Risk of Bedsores in Nursing Homes and Medical Facilities

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, occur when there is unrelieved pressure on the skin. A person who is unable to move independently may experience this pressure which deprives the skin of necessary oxygen and nutrients. People who are confined to their beds or to their wheelchairs are at particular risk of suffering a bedsore injury.

Any bedsore requires medical attention, but not all bedsores are the same. Bedsores are classified in different stages, including:

  • Stage 1. A person with a stage 1 bedsore may have red skin that itches, hurts, or feels warm. Sometimes, stage 1 bedsores may heal without medical intervention if the pressure is relieved from the skin where the bedsore has developed.
  • Stage 2. A stage 2 bedsore may be moist and pink or red. The area may be open, but deeper layers of tissue are not impacted. Prompt medical treatment is important to prevent the bedsore from progressing.
  • Stage 3. The depth of a stage 3 bedsore may vary. Fat is usually visible and deeper layers of skin tissue are impacted. In some cases, permanent harm may be done.
  • Stage 4. At this most severe stage of bedsores, there is skin and tissue loss. In some cases, the injury may go all the way down to the bone. Muscles, bones, tendons, and joints may be impacted, and the injury may be fatal.

A nursing home or healthcare facility may be responsible for a resident’s bedsore if:

  • The resident’s position was not changed regularly.
  • The resident was not kept dry and clean.
  • The resident did not receive proper nutrition and hydration.
  • The staff failed to check for bedsores, to recognize a bedsore in its early stage, or to get the resident medical help to prevent the bedsore from progressing.

Bedsores are painful and potentially fatal, but they are not the only risk that elderly Americans face in health care facilities.

Risk of Infections in Nursing Homes and Medical Facilities

Infections are another serious and potentially fatal risk for older people in nursing homes and healthcare facilities. Staff members have a responsibility to try to prevent the spread of infections and to make sure that medical attention is received for any symptoms of illness. Some common infections suffered in nursing homes include:

  • C. Diff. Clostridium difficile is a gastrointestinal condition that can be spread from person to person by spores. Proper hygiene and infection control procedures should be followed to prevent this dangerous infection from spreading to other residents.
  • MRSA and other staph infections. MRSA and other staph infections can occur when bacteria enter wounds, IVs, or catheters. These infections can be fatal.
  • Urinary tract infections. These infections are common among the elderly and more common among people using catheters. Proper procedures should be followed to minimize the risks of infection and to identify infections early so that treatment can begin promptly.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis is a bacterial skin condition that can spread rapidly and that can be fatal.
  • Sepsis. Sepsis is a serious infection that can be spread when bacteria enters a wound, an IV, or a catheter. It needs to be treated quickly to prevent fatalities.
  • E.Coli. E. Coli infections may come from food or drink that is served at a facility and can result in dangerous gastrointestinal infections.
  • Scabies. Scabies is caused by mite bites. Proper hygiene can prevent mites and, therefore, prevent scabies from spreading.
  • Influenza. Influenza can be fatal in older individuals. Proper hygiene and infection control techniques can prevent the flu from spreading in the close quarters of a healthcare facility.
  • Pneumonia. Like the flu, pneumonia can be fatal in older people and may be prevented with proper hygiene and compliance with infection control protocols.

Nursing homes should prevent infections when possible through good hygiene and infection control procedures. When an infection does occur, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan should be made as quickly as possible to prevent complications and fatalities.

What Your Loved One, or Her Survivors, May Recover

Elder abuse or neglect should never happen. If your loved one suffered a bedsore or infection while in a nursing home or another medical facility, then it is important for a full investigation to be done to determine if it was the result of abuse or neglect. If your loved one’s bedsore or infection would not have happened but for the abuse or neglect she suffered then she may be able to recover damages for all of her medical expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other costs.

If your loved one died as a result of a bedsore or infection, then you may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. In addition to the damages that you could recover in a personal injury lawsuit, you may also be able to recover for funeral and burial expenses, and your personal loss of love, guidance, and emotional support.

How to Get Your Loved One the Recovery She Deserves

You want to do what’s best for your loved one and to get her the fair compensation that she deserves after she has suffered from a bedsore or an infection in a California nursing home or healthcare facility.

You can help your loved one by finding an elder abuse lawyer who understands this particular area of the law, who wants to know your loved one’s unique story, and who is not afraid to go to trial to get your loved one the recovery that she deserves.

Elder abuse cases are complex, and the process of getting a fair recovery is different than it is in other types of personal injury cases. Corporate nursing homes and healthcare facilities will fight back hard against any allegation of abuse or neglect. Your loved one deserves an attorney who will not only fight back just as hard but who wants to see justice done. We will work hard to settle your loved one’s claim, but if the other side is unwilling, then we will go trial to get her the recovery that she deserves.

If the facility was responsible for your loved one’s injury, then we will hold the facility accountable. Please contact us today for a free and confidential consultation so that we can discuss how best to protect your loved one’s rights after a nursing home or healthcare facility has failed to do so.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law