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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect: The Problem with Pressure Sores

Pressure-related injuries are a common problem in elderly residents living in nursing homes, due to the fact that many nursing home residents are immobile or have limited mobility. Oftentimes, these residents cannot turn themselves on a regular basis or reposition themselves easily. When a person stays in one position for a signficant period of time, the constant pressure cuts off circulation and this causes tissue to die. The most common areas that pressure sores form are on a person’s elbows, sacrum, hips, ankles and heels. According to a Center for Disease Control study that surveyed over 1500 nursing homes in 2004, with the findings released in 2009, over eleven percent of all nursing home residents suffered from a pressure sore of some stage.

It is easier to prevent a pressure sore than to treat one that has already formed. Therefore, it is crucial for nursing home staff to employ measures to prevent residents from forming sores in the first place. When a nursing home resident is admitted to a facility, they are assessed to determine their risk for bed sores. If a resident is deemed to be at high-risk for developing pressure sores, nursing home staff members must develop a plan to address this risk and implement the plan accordingly in order to prevent sores.

If a resident is at-risk, a nursing home should perform daily skin-checks to monitor the resident’s skin integrity to determine whether the resident’s skin is intact. A nursing home may also use devices, such as pressure-relieving pads and mattresses, to reduce pressure to bony prominences. In addition to devices, nursing home staff must turn and reposition at-risk residents every few hours and ensure that their skin is clean and dry. Moisture and unsanitary conditions increase the chances of developing sores, so it is important for staff to clean residents thoroughly after bladder or bowel movements and make sure the area is completely dry. Residents must also stay well-nourished and hydrated. Malnutrition heightens the risk for pressure ulcers and slows the healing process.

Although nursing home staff members should be well-trained to address a resident’s risk, residents often fall victim to pressure sores. If not identified and treated in a timely manner, pressure sores can worsen and become infected. In many instances, residents die of complications when their blood becomes infected as a result of a pressure sore. If a nursing home takes all the proper steps to prevent and treat pressure sores and one still forms, it may have been unavoidable. However, sometimes nursing home staff members and physicians fail to follow the standard of care for treating at-risk residents. When a resident suffers injury or death as a result of a nursing home negligence, the facility may be held liable for its actions.

Illinois nursing home residents who have suffered serious pressure sores and related injury or death in facilities throughout the state may be entitled to seek compensation for their suffering. If you have a loved one living in an Illinois nursing home who has developed pressure ulcers, it is important to first seek medical treatment of the wounds. If you believe that the injuries are a result of neglect, contact a nursing home lawyer to discuss your potential claim. Our experienced team is happy to evaluate your claim and advise you on your legal options.