“Pressure sores are graphic, ugly, smelly evidence of health care providers’ failure to take good enough care of the elderly,” according to the recent book Primary Care Geriatrics.
There is almost never any excuse for bedsores. With proper care, bedsores are preventable. Frequent repositioning and special pads, cushions, and mattresses can prevent them.
Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. Bedsores develop because of unrelieved pressure on bony parts of the body when an individual stays in one position for hours at a time. They usually develop on the ankles, back, buttocks, hips, or other bony areas. The risk of developing bedsores can be determined by using the Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Ulcer Risk, available online here: http://www.bradenscale.com/images/bradenscale.pdf.
Despite general agreement that most bedsores should be prevented, 189,315 Medicare patients developed pressure ulcers as a result of hospital care in 2008, and those bedsores were the cause of death for 17,611 of them.
Bedsores are defined by four different stages by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel:
- Stage I is the most superficial, indicated by nonblanchable redness that does not subside after pressure is relieved. Although easy to identify on a light-skinned patient, ulcers on darker-skinned individuals may show up as shades of purple or blue in comparison to lighter skin tones.
- Stage II is damage to the epidermis extending into, but no deeper than, the dermis. In this stage, the ulcer may be referred to as a blister or abrasion.
- Stage III involves the full thickness of the skin and may extend into the subcutaneous tissue layer. This layer has a relatively poor blood supply and can be difficult to heal. At this stage, there may be undermining damage that makes the wound much larger than it may seem on the surface.
- Stage IV is the deepest, extending into the muscle, tendon or even bone.
Stage I and Stage II pressure ulcers can take months to heal. Stage III and Stage IV pressure ulcers may never heal. Even worse, bedsores are often fatal and are one of the leading causes of death resulting from medical care complications reported in developed countries, second only to adverse drug reactions.
Bedsores can also trigger other ailments, cause patients considerable suffering, and be expensive to treat. Some complications include autonomic dysreflexia, bladder distension, osteomyelitis, pyarthroses, sepsis, amyloidosis, anemia, urethral fistula, and gangrene.
Medical Negligence Claims Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson
Far too often, the cause of a bedsore is medical negligence. When a medical error that should have been avoided occurs and causes a patient injury, it is medical malpractice. Like all other professionals, doctors and nurses should be held accountable when their negligence causes harm.
The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and expertise to assist injured patients with their medical malpractice claims. Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Among our attorneys’ recent verdicts, settlements and results are the following:
- Jim Orr negotiated a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8 year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors occurring at a VA hospital.
- Michael Heygood achieved a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.
- Eric Pearson argued the appeal in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, 271 S.W.3d 238 (Tex. 2009), in which the Texas Supreme Court upheld a gross negligence finding against the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case and affirmed the jury’s $9 million verdict on behalf of his clients.
At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the knowledge, experience and financial resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex medical negligence case. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by filling out our free online contact form for a no-cost consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.