Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are a serious medical condition that can occur when pressure is placed on the skin for an extended period of time. They typically develop in areas where the bone is close to the skin, such as the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone.

How do I know if I or my loved one has a claim?

Bedsores are not supposed to occur and generally develop when a patient has received poor care. Florence Nightingale, one of the pioneers of modern nursing, said in 1859, “If he has a bedsore, it’s generally not the fault of the disease, but of the nursing.” It was true back then and it remains true today that almost all bedsores are preventable with proper care. If you or your loved one entered a medical facility such as a nursing home or rehabilitative care facility bedsore-free and developed bedsores at the facility, there is likely a viable legal claim. However, the facts of each case must be evaluated individually, and our attorneys offer free consultations.

What differentiates bedsores from other types of injuries in nursing homes or other medical facilities is that bedsores are preventable. It is entirely possible to avoid having residents develop bedsores. This is true even in bedridden patients. All that must be done is repositioning high risk patients while they lie in bed or while seated in a wheelchair.

Almost all nursing homes are for-profit enterprises. Sadly, in an attempt to increase their profits these facilities oftentimes will not hire an adequate number of staff or will use unqualified staff. The result is that residents are not attended to as often as required to prevent bedsores. Sometimes improper nutrition, which is also controlled by the nursing home, contributes to development of pressure ulcers as well.

Many nursing home residents are incontinent. Urine and feces can burn the skin and contribute to skin breakdown. Thus, another step in the prevention of bedsores is prompt incontinent care. Complaints by family members that the bed sheets are often wet or soiled when they visit their loved one are an indication that pericare is not being administered in a timely fashion, possibly resulting in bedsores.

Why are bedsores a concern?

While bedsores may start as minor irritations, they can quickly escalate into severe wounds if left untreated. In some cases, bedsores can lead to life-threatening infections, including sepsis and osteomyelitis. Sadly, some patients/residents pass away from their bedsore injuries resulting in a possible wrongful death claim against the healthcare facility as well.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has deemed bedsores a “never event” putting them on par with other severe medical errors such as performing surgery on the wrong patient, leaving a foreign object inside a patient after surgery, or discharging an infant to the wrong person. Bedsores are almost always an improper occurrence, and the injured person should seek the advice of an attorney.

What if my loved one passed away, can a bedsore claim still be brought?

Pressure ulcer/bedsore claims can be brought even after a person passes away. In New York and Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is 2 years from the date of death. This 2-year deadline applies to bedsores only if the bedsores were one of the causes of death of the decedent. If the person passes away as a result of a condition that was made worse by bedsores (e.g. infection) then its possible to argue that a wrongful death has occurred.

If a deceased person suffered a bedsore, but the bedsore did not cause the decedent’s death, then the statute of limitations would be 2.5 years from the date of the initial development of the bedsore in New York. This timeframe is only 2 years in Pennsylvania.

Before a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of a deceased person, someone must be formally appointed as administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate. This process can be expensive and time consuming. Please seek a free consultation from one of our attorneys for more information.

The deceased person’s estate may have to pay medical liens out of any pain and suffering award. These liens can be significant if the deceased person was a longtime resident of a nursing home or rehabilitative care facility.

How much can a pressure ulcer claim be worth?

Less than 10% of elder abuse is reported, meaning that nursing homes do not typically receive the disciplinary measures required in order to alter their practices. This is why a bed sore lawsuit can have further-reaching implications other than just compensation for your family. Bedsore lawsuits can draw attention to neglectful practices and can improve care to make sure that this kind of harm does not occur again.

Each bedsore claim is unique, and a settlement or award will depend on several factors, including things like venue (the location where a trial would be). It is important to obtain counsel familiar with jurors in your area, as local counsel typically knows local jurors better than outsiders might. Welch, Donlon & Czarples has recovered millions of dollars for our bedsore clients over the years. While there is no formula to determine the value of a claim, the experienced pressure ulcer attorneys at our firm do everything we can to reach a just result.

Reach out to us at 607-500-HURT or email today for a free consultation. There is no legal fee unless we are successful in obtaining a settlement or verdict.