Thousands of lawsuits are filed against hospitals and long-term care facilities each year alleging the preventable development of bedsores. Usually, these lawsuits claim that the facilities failed to provide a standard of care and neglected to perform practices which prevent this sores from occurring. In order to prevent bedsores, nursing homes and hospitals usually have protocols which dictate how the staff must treat patients. Bedsores or pressure sores may develop if
- The staff fails to turn, reposition, or rotate at-risk patients regularly, usually around every 2 hours.
- There is a lack of proper hydration and nutrition which keeps the patient hearty and resistant to wounds. Even if the staff is providing a patient with food and water, they may be liable if the patient is not eating or drinking and the staff fails to take proper steps to ensure nutrition.
- The patient is exposed to prolonged periods of moisture, often from incontinence which is not promptly addressed.
- The staff does not notice or check for signs of bedsores or does not provide immediate medical attention when bedsores are suspected.
- The family and/or the physician is not notified of the development of medical problems such as bedsores or their complications.
- Caretakers fail to provide prescribed medical care regularly after the diagnosis of bedsores, allowing them to develop into life-threatening conditions.
Statute of Limitations for Bedsore Claims
If any of the preceding scenarios apply to your case, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to note, however, that there is a statute of limitations for when bedsore claims may be filed. The amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit on their own behalf or on behalf of a loved one varies based on state and the type of charge being filed. For example, in Maryland, plaintiffs have three years to file personal injury suits and wrongful death suits. In contrast, if the bedsores occurred due to a physician's malpractice, the plaintiff has five years in which to file a medical malpractice suit. In Pennsylvania, plaintiffs have less time: two years for personal injury and wrongful death suits, four years for medical malpractice suits. It is, therefore, advisable to contact a lawyer promptly if you wish to begin the process of litigation, as you may run out of time.
Damages awarded for bedsore cases are usually similar to those that might stem from any personal injury or wrongful death case. Settlements or awards often include compensation for medical bills incurred due to the bedsores, such as medication for wound, blood, or joint infection, amputation surgery costs, and extended hospital stays to treat advanced sores. Plaintiffs and their families might also receive money for emotional distress caused by the avoidable trauma and loss of quality of life for the sufferer. Spouses and family members of those who have passed away from complications of bedsores may choose to pursue damages for loss of companionship and wrongful death.
Examples of Bedsore Lawsuits
The number of bedsore lawsuits in the United States is growing as more people age and require long-term medical care. Of course, one would hope that all medical facilities for the elderly and sick would provide diligent and comprehensive care. The unfortunate truth, however, is that nursing homes and hospitals may be understaffed, overbooked, and poorly trained. In these situations, the kind of neglect that leads to bedsores is not uncommon.
For example, in the mid-2000s, Martha Jane Pierce was moved into the Allenbrooke Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Memphis Tennessee. Soon after she was admitted, her condition deteriorated, allegedly due to poor nutrition, dehydration, and the development of bedsores which went all the way down to her bone. The sores became infected and eventually her leg was amputated, and she died at the nursing home in 2009. In April of 2016, the jury awarded Pierce's family over $30 million in damages.
In March of 2015, a family in Tucson, Arizona was awarded $6.5 million for claims of medical negligence and wrongful death after Byron Van Tassel died at the age of 67 from complications stemming from a pressure ulcer (bedsore). The hospital at which he was staying, Banner University Medical Center, failed to detect the ulcer until it had progressed to stage 3, and the patient suffered from malnutrition, losing 45 pounds in only a few weeks. The ulcer became infected, leading to long-term health problems such as skin breakdown, gangrene, and depression.
In yet another case, Joe N. Blango of Wyncote, Pennsylvania died from complications of bedsores. Blango's widow was awarded $6 million in damages from both the nursing home where her former husband was residing for short term care and the hospital where he was treated. Both facilities allegedly failed to detect the bedsores and the hospital sent him home unhealed. He also became severely malnourished during his stay at the hospital, contributing to the damage caused by the sores.
Choosing a Bedsore Lawyer in Baltimore
When you have watched someone you love go through a traumatic experience, it can be difficult to know how to move forward. If the person has passed, you may feel distraught, angry, and hopeless. It is important to remember that bedsores are completely preventable and, when treated early, easily curable. No one should have to suffer the pain of infections, open sores, or death from this preventable condition. An experienced personal injury attorney can help support you in a difficult emotional time. While financial compensation cannot make up for the physical and emotional suffering experienced by both the victim and their families, it can help relieve economic burdens and give everyone involved space to grieve and recover.
A lawyer can additionally help you understand who might be at fault for your loved one's injuries. Sometimes a nursing home or hospital may be at fault for failing to train their staff. Other times a contracted health care service or a particular doctor who misdiagnosed the patient may be at fault. If these systems are failing in their basic duties to their patients, it is important to hold them accountable and prevent future victims. For a free consultation on your case, call trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162 or contact us online.