Two Things You Should Look Out For
One of our areas of practice deals with victims of nursing home negligence. Many of these cases deal with injuries our clients sustained due to a fall or as a result of pressure ulcers, often referred to as “bed sores”.
All too often, nursing home residents develop sores on their bodies that are referred to as pressure ulcers or pressure sores. A pressure ulcer is a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear and/or friction. There may be a number of contributing factors associated with pressure ulcers. The primary contributing factors to the development of pressure ulcers are extended pressure, shear and or friction, nutrition and dehydration deficiencies and excessive moisture and bacteria exposure as a result of incontinence. Shear and or friction injuries can occur when a patient is dragged across a bedsheet by a nurse or caregiver during the repositioning process or while being bathed by “scrubbing” the patient too forcefully. Depending on the phase of the ulcer, this can be the source of great pain and suffering requiring the need for a wound care plan of treatment.
Likewise, falls pose a serious risk for nursing home residents and can lead to sprains/strains, fractures, head injuries or worse. As nursing home residents' existing health problems and general frailty increases the risk of serious injury from a fall, nursing facilities must take appropriate precautions to ensure the safest environment possible for its residents. Residents must be assessed at admission for their individual fall risk, as well as a thorough skin assessment for the prevention of pressure ulcers. Residents must also be periodically reassessed to ensure that the interventions in place are still appropriate.
Changes in the residents health should also instigate a reassessment to be sure that all possible interventions are being utilized to prevent injury from falls and pressure ulcers. With regard to pressure ulcers, facilities often fail to chart when a patient is repositioned or turned. Many facilities utilize an “event charting” system, only charting events that are outside the norm for that particular resident.
Therefore, it is imperative to have skilled attorneys who are adept at proving the absence of repositioning and other preventative measures to enforce the facility’s responsibility to residents who are at risk or who have developed pressure ulcers. Likewise, in the event of a fall, there must be investigation not only into whether the facility performed the appropriate assessments at the appropriate times but also whether the appropriate precautions were taken and whether there was adequate staff to monitor and aid its residents.