Get Help After a Family Member Suffers Nursing Home Abuse
We trust nursing homes and other care facilities to treat our family members and give them the best possible quality of life. In reality, an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation every year, according to the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A surprising source of this abuse is improper wound care. Severe wounds can require round-the-clock maintenance, and inadequate care of wounds, like bedsores, can be deadly for nursing home residents.
What Is Improper Wound Care?
Improper wound care occurs when wounds are not given the proper care and treatment to facilitate healing. The wounds that most commonly afflict elderly nursing home patients are pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers, and bedsores. Pressure sores are caused by localized damage to the skin and/or underlying tissue due to rubbing or pressing against the skin.
Generally, wounds heal through four main phases:
- the hemostasis phase
- the defensive/inflammatory phase
- the proliferative phase
- the maturation phase
The body clots blood, destroys bacteria and debris, fills and covers the wound, and strengthens the new tissue (Shield HealthCare). With severe wounds, this healing process is begun and helped by wound care.
Wound care varies depending on the wound. Treatment for a pressure ulcer, for example, should include reducing pressure on the affected skin, controlling pain, preventing infection, and maintaining good nutrition. This often requires a strict schedule of repositioning, cleaning, and bandaging wounds. Nursing homes should document when a patient has been repositioned, when wounds have been cleaned and dressed, and which, if any, drugs have been administered.
When nursing home caregivers don’t maintain a working schedule, or otherwise fail to care for a patient’s wounds, it may be considered improper wound care.
Improper Wound Care and the Law
Caretakers in nursing homes and other facilities have an obligation to both prevent wounds and treat them properly when they occur. Pressure sores, for example, are preventable in most circumstances. When they develop, the facility may be considered liable for their existence.
Even when the development of a wound is justified, improper care of the wound is considered negligent, meaning the staff failed to use reasonable care under the law, causing further damage to the patient. Lack of knowledge and training, improper documentation, improper ratio of staff to patients, and inconsistencies in the diagnosing or treatment of a wound can all make a care facility liable in civil court.
Improper wound care can even be considered medical malpractice, if given by a licensed medical provider. If you believe that your loved one has wounds that could have been prevented or lessened with proper care, you may want to pursue a claim against the nursing home.
Your lawyer will work to prove:
- The caretaker/patient relationship existed.
- The caretaker was negligent – he or she did not meet the standard of care in the given situation.
- The negligence was a direct cause of the further injury to the patient. For example, if your loved one suffered from an infection, your legal team must prove that the infection was a result of the negligent wound care, not another factor.
- The injury led to specific damages. A severe infection could cause physical pain, mental anguish, and additional medical bills – these are the damages you may be fighting for in a civil case.
It is also important to note that under Texas medical malpractice law, a patient who has been injured during the course of treatment must file suit within two years after the malpractice incident occurred.
Work with a Dallas Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has over 25 years of experience representing those who have been injured due to no fault of their own. When your loved one is under the care of a Dallas nursing home, it is up to you to advocate for their well-being. If you believe that your loved one may be suffering due to improper wound care, give our Dallas injury attorneys a call at (214) 231-0544 for a no-cost consultation.