Nursing Home Injury and Wrongful Death from Decubitus Ulcer Complications

In a previous post from this week, our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers discussed the serious problem of Decubitus ulcers in nursing homes—pressure sores or bedsores that develop when immobile residents go for too long without being moved.

If a decubitus ulcer is not detected, the nursing home injury can become infected and progress to a more advanced stage, causing extensive damage to the deeper structures under the skin. These infections are often very difficult and painful for nursing home residents, as they take a long time to heal, and can cause complications, or even death.

One serious complication that comes from pressure sores is blood poisoning, or septicemia. Many residents also develop osteomyelitis, an inflammation of the bones that is caused by bacteria that enters the body through the open wound and attacks the bone. If not treated, osteomyelitis can spread into the bone marrow and the surrounding joints. The mortality rate for people with osteomyelitis is extremely high.

Treatment of serious decubitus ulcers may include drying out the wound, or surgical debridement, where a surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the dead tissue, bone and fluid from the area around the bedsore, and administers systemic antibiotics to the resident.

Surgical debridement of the bedsore can also be accompanied by ‘flap reconstruction’ to cover the open wound with healthy tissue to avoid infection. The surgery is done to make sure that the skin is free of dead or damaged tissue, to promote healing. This reconstruction is considered a last resort in cases involving advanced stage bedsores, as it has an extremely high complication rate, and recovery from the procedure is often slow and painful.

The best preventative treatment for decubitus ulcers is to stop them before they start. Residents who are at high-risk for decubitus ulcers should be checked daily for pressure sores, and moved every two hours to alleviate prolonged pressure on the skin. For immobile patients susceptible to decubitus ulcers, surfaces should be well padded with pillows, sheepskin or foam to reduce pressure. Incontinent residents should be changed regularly, so the skin is kept powdered and dry. Residents should also be well nourished, to help support the functioning of the body.

All stages of decubitus ulcers stages are preventable, and nursing home residents should be provided with proper care and protection. Advanced stages of decubitus ulcers are often the result of nursing home abuse and neglect—with residents developing difficult, painful and potentially life-threatening illnesses and complications from the ulcers, often resulting in death.

When a Maryland nursing home resident dies from nursing home abuse or negligence, there are two causes of action that can arise under Maryland law: a survival action on behalf of the decedent, and a wrongful death claim, for the surviving spouse and children.

Nursing homes that fail to protect residents from the development and progression of decubitus ulcers can be held liable for the nursing home injuries and wrongful deaths that occur. Our Maryland Nursing Home Injury Lawyers represent victims and their families in both actions—to help them recover personal injury compensation from nursing homes for harm and negligence. Call Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today at 1-800-654-1949.

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Pressure Ulcer Research

The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging: Pressure Sores

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Osteomyelitis

Related Web Resources:

NCHS Data Brief: Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States 2004

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