Bedsores - Level of Severity

Experienced Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer Serving Knoxville and Beyond

People who have a loved one in a nursing home must stay alert for signs of neglect. Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are a common sign of neglect. They usually develop on skin that covers bony parts of the body, like the tailbone, hips, ankles, and heels. People are most at risk for bedsores if they have a medical condition that restricts their capacity to switch positions or if they need to spend most of their time in a chair or bed. The level of severity of a bedsore suffered by a person in an East Tennessee nursing home will determine the treatment, as well as the potential damages that may be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. Knoxville nursing home negligence lawyer Mark Hartsoe can evaluate the facts of your case and provide legal advocacy as needed.

Levels of Severity of Bedsores

A bedsore is a type of injury not only to skin but also to the tissue underlying the skin, when there is prolonged pressure on a particular area of the body. The elderly and infirm who live in nursing homes are at elevated risk of developing bedsores because they so often have limited capacity to change their position or spend a lot of time in chairs or beds.

Bedsores are more likely to develop where a person is not turned every two hours to avoid undue pressure on specific bony parts of the body. An elderly or infirm person may be highly dependent on nursing home staff to move them, and if the staff members fail to understand the risk of bedsores developing or are working in an understaffed environment, they may not move an elderly or infirm person as much as is necessary.

Bedsores are painful and have four levels of severity once they develop. In the first level, the skin gets discolored or red. It will not turn a lighter color when touched, and the area developing the bedsore may be a different temperature or degree of firmness compared to the skin around it. In the second level, outer skin layers may start to be removed, and the open wound may be red or pink. Alternatively, there is no break, but there is a blister filled with fluid. Sometimes the blister starts to drain. In the third level, there is a deep crater of a wound. You may be able to see through the layers of skin to tissue. In the fourth level, there is a massive loss of skin tissue, and you may be able to see tendons, bones, or muscles. There may be dark debris or crust at the site of the sore.

It is important to medically address bedsores as soon as possible. A nursing home resident with a bedsore may develop a serious infection, suffer sepsis, or die as a result of a bedsore.

Tennessee and federal laws require nursing home staff to use reasonable care when caring for residents of nursing homes. This includes turning residents sufficiently to prevent or reduce the risk of a bedsore. If a resident develops a bedsore, the staff should use reasonable care by bringing a nurse and doctor's attention to the bedsore. If it is caught early enough, at the first stage of development, further injury may be staved off.

Under the Tennessee Adult Protection Act, people who have been victimized by nursing home neglect or abuse may be able to recover damages for their bedsore injuries. First, they may be able to recover compensatory damages. Also, when a nursing home acts in an especially egregious manner in addressing (or failing to address) the bedsore, it may be possible for your attorney to recover punitive damages. If your loved one died due to the nursing home's negligence in spotting and treating the bedsore, it may be possible to recover wrongful death damages.

Retain a Knoxville Attorney to Bring a Bedsore Injury Claim

If you are concerned about a potential bedsore affecting a resident at a nursing home, you should consult an experienced nursing home negligence lawyer. Contact the Hartsoe Law Firm in Knoxville by calling (865) 524-5657 or using our online form. We represent injured people in Clinton, Oak Ridge, Alcoa, Louisville, Maryville, LaFollette, Tazewell, Newport, Crossville, Jamestown, Rutledge, Greeneville, Morristown, Chattanooga, Dandridge, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Madisonville, Lenoir City, Loudon, Athens, and other communities in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Monroe, Loudon, McMinn, and Bradley Counties.

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