Many families turn to nursing homes for help in providing the best care to their aging or ailing loved ones.
I’ve had numerous clients who explained to me that they wanted to take care of their family members themselves but couldn’t do so because of work, space, or their own physical limitations. When placing a family member in a nursing home, they expected their loved one to be properly cared for.
Unfortunately, as I know from my experience as a Houston, Texas-based medical malpractice and nursing home attorney, nursing homes are quick to want to get paid but often terribly slow and incompetent when it comes to taking care of their residents. Understaffing and poor staff training are the most common culprits when things go wrong.
Another factor is an overall lack of accountability. Sadly, study after study shows that Texas nursing homes rank as the absolute number-one worst in the nation. Things haven’t improved since the 2003 round of tort reform that devalued the lives of the elderly and unemployed with noneconomic damages caps. I’m afraid that some corporations believe it’s cheaper to settle an occasional lawsuit than to invest in the staffing they need to take care of their patients.
The danger of bedsores
A medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against a Laredo, Texas nursing home alleges that the staff’s inattention and poor care led to a 65-year-old resident’s death because of a bedsore and related complications.
According to the lawsuit petition, the nursing staff didn’t follow physician orders, including an overall failure to assess changes in their patient’s condition. When this dear lady was taken from the nursing home to a hospital, the petition details that she was diagnosed with a large, deep sacral pressure ulcer, along with hypertension (high blood pressure), dehydration, osteomyelitis, and sepsis.
A bedsore (also called a decubitus ulcer or pressure ulcer) is a pressure injury that’s primarily caused by a lack of movement. It can develop in people who spend a lot of time in bed—like nursing home residents who may need help turning or getting into and out of bed. The standard of care requires nursing staff to assess and reassess a patient’s skin integrity, including identifying the risk of skin breakdown and taking measures to prevent it.
From my experience in handling bedsore lawsuits, I know from medical experts that the best way to treat a bedsore it to prevent it from developing in the first place. When a bedsore grows and becomes deep, it takes a massive amount of protein and calories to heal—sometimes more than a person can handle. This can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.
Additionally, as bedsores cause tissue to break down and die, they become a magnet for infection. In a nursing home environment, the nursing staff has a critical role in assessing and reassessing patients and informing the largely off-site, absent physicians of new developments.
When a patient has a bedsore-related infection and the nurses don’t inform a doctor, there’s a delay in treatment that allows the infection to smolder and spread. When the infection spreads to the bone, it’s called osteomyelitis.
Another complication of a bedsore infection is a life-threatening, system-wide inflammatory condition called sepsis. Sepsis damages vital organs and causes them to shut down. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can quickly put a person into shock and lead to death.
We are here to help
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by poor, substandard nursing home care, a top-rated Texas medical malpractice and nursing home attorney can help you evaluate your potential case.