Bed sores or pressure ulcers aren’t uncommon among immobile people. Statistics released by the National Center for Health Statistics highlight that no less than 150,000 patients in the United States experience some stage of pressure sores in a given year.
In medical terms, a pressure sore or bedsore is an injury resulting from prolonged immobility, slackness in care by caregivers, and carelessness in inspecting a patient for pressure sores. Family members of patients who are admitted in hospital wards for medical treatments need to watch out for such wounds.
Bed sores form ample grounds for filing legal claims against the medical care center. Such cases should be treated with extreme seriousness as the victims may require hospitalization and other forms of treatment.
Generally, bedsore lawsuits involve action on caregivers for negligence, causing wounds to develop. Legally speaking, this means that victims can argue that the defendant (an individual or the medical center) failed to act responsibly or like a reasonable care provider would have acted in similar circumstances.
If you have developed bed sores because of negligence by a medical care provider, the following aspects can help you estimate the worth of your lawsuit:
- Intensity of Injury
Suffering injuries during an ongoing medical treatment can be very painful and you will have to take care of the wounds. You will need to know the type of injury you sustained. Consult an attorney specializing in bed sore cases to understand more about the different stages of bedsores. His/her expertise in this field can help determine the critical issues related to your case. Some of the reasons that lead to these injuries are improper medication, the lack of adequate supervision, dissatisfactory wound care, or not reporting the issue to the physician in a timely manner.
The extent of distress caused by the injuries can determine the worth of your legal claim. For instance, when your injury is permanent or long lasting (stage 4 sores), it will increase the compensation value compared to a trivial one (stage 1 sores). However, if you sustained a stage 1 bed sore, but the wound gets infected due to further negligence, then it can be just as valuable. Your attorney can help you understand the factors that are considered when valuing a legal claim for bed sores.
- Location of the Sores
Bed sores are not limited to the first layer of the skin and often develop in those parts of the body that have little tissue or muscle. In stage 2 sores, the skin breaks and the wound breaks open, exposing the underlying tissue. Depending on the location of the sore, an open wound can even form an ulcer.
Although these injuries may occur anywhere in a patient’s body, the most likely areas include the back of the head, the neck, the back, the buttocks and the heels. You need to inform your attorney about the time difference between diagnosis and treatment of your bed sores.
If the wounds remain unattended for a longer period, these areas can be prone to developing further infections and diseases. Untreated bed sores take longer to heal completely. Bed sores will add to your overall treatment time, and can delay the effect of medications as well. In court, you can argue about the inconvenience (mental stress and financial loss) caused to you and seek compensation it.
- Liability of Medical Facility
You need to present reasonable arguments and evidence that reflect the negligence of the medical care center. Consult your lawyer to determine if it will be feasible to sue the physician/nurse assigned to you or the medical facility as a whole. This is because hospitals are liable for the care provided by their employees. This is known as vicarious liability, wherein the employer (medical facility) can be sued when its employees neglect or fail to treat a patient.
In bed sore lawsuits, it is the victim’s responsibility to prove that the medical facility was negligent, and not the hospital’s burden to prove its innocence. All medical care providers are responsible to ensure there are enough practitioners and caregivers for all the patients. If your attorney can prove that you developed bedsores due to hospital understaffing, the hospital can be sued for negligence.
- Hygiene at Medical Center
Pressure sores can result from issues in patients’ personal hygiene and overall health. Further, dehydration and poor nutrition can hinder the body’s healing process and deteriorate the patient’s skin condition. Make sure you or your family member checks the quality of cleanliness and food provided to you.
Often, neglect and maltreatment by caregivers can lead to a patient living in a room with soiled bedding, unclean sheets and dirty clothing. This can be a breeding ground for germs and lead to pressure sores. Remember, along with the pain caused by bedsores, you are susceptible to further serious medical complications, including gangrene, osteomyelitis, sepsis, infection, and even amputation of the affected body part. If the caregiver appointed by the medical facility is careless with sanitation, then you may have a strong case to present.
Bed sores can be difficult to detect and are often ignored by patients. Common reasons for medical neglect towards patients include lack of proper training of the caregivers and understaffed facilities. Because of these factors, patients suffer and become vulnerable to medical conditions like bed sores. If you are facing such a situation, then hire an experienced attorney to receive the rightful compensation for your losses and discomfort.
Author Bio: Janie Henry is an expert in personal injury law. She writes about law career options and tips. She is passionate about her work and always has an eye on interesting law case studies.