Bedsores can and do cause death every day. A Stage 3 or Stage 4 bedsore is like an open door for bacteria and infection. Once in the wound, infection leads to sepsis and septic shock, followed by organ failure and death.
However, bedsores are not necessarily a death sentence. Proper nutrition, consistent wound treatment, and a strict regimen of offloading pressure helps bedsores heal and can prevent infection or death.
Bedsore death from infection may be a sign of nursing home negligence. Nursing home staff are required to follow physician’s wound treatment orders, monitor the bedsore, and implement a turning and repositioning schedule. Generally, when these things are not done, infection sets in. Unfortunately, once infection and sepsis occurs, the mortality rate increases significantly.
Nearly 60,000 people die from complications due to bedsores every year. That’s one person every nine minutes.
During a recent period, bedsores directly caused over 114,000 deaths nationwide. 80% of those deaths were of persons 75 years or older.
Sadly, bedsore mortality has been shown to be higher among African Americans. African Americans suffered not only more bedsore related deaths, but more severe, higher-staged ulcers. In a recent study, the median stage bedsore among African Americans was Stage 3, while the median stage in Caucasian persons was Stage 2.
Although bedsores can kill persons of all ages and backgrounds, there are certain populations that are more susceptible.
Proving that a bedsore actually caused a death can be very difficult. Why? Because it is not enough that the nursing home’s negligence caused the bedsore. The bedsore must be the actual and proximate cause of the passing. Many people have bedsore but pass away from other causes, particularly elderly nursing home residents. Having strong evidence to link the bedsore to the passing is crucial.
Typically, death occurs once the bedsore has reached full thickness at Stage 3 or Stage 4. “Full thickness” simply means that the wound extends beyond the first two layers of skin. Although full thickness wounds can occur when the skin is still intact, these are not as prevalent.
Every nursing home is required by Federal and state law to take precautions aimed at reducing bedsore occurrences. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may cite a nursing home for failing to take the proper precautions. So what are those requirements?
Bad care means that the nursing home fails to complete one of the three steps above. Essentially, the resident that comes into the nursing home with no bedsores should leave the nursing home with no bedsores.
Yes. You can sue a nursing home if a loved one has died as a result of bedsores. In fact, often other entities associated with the nursing home may be sued as well. These entities include management companies, shell corporations, the “main office,” and others. Further, individuals may be sued as well, like the owners, the administrator, and directors.
Often there are two claims: The Estate of the deceased’s claim for personal injury and the claim by the relatives called wrongful death. The Estate may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses, and other related expenses. The wrongful death claim holders may be entitled to recover for the loss of value of the life of the resident.
Bed sores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are injuries to the skin and underling tissue resulting from pressure on skin. Bed sores often occur when nursing home residents are immobile or bedridden and develop on parts of the body that make the most contact with surfaces- tailbone, ankles, heels, and hips.
Bed sores develop in four stages. In stage one, the skin begins to turn red and may feel warm. It may be painful to the touch. In stage two, the wound opens as the skin breaks down. In stage three, the wound area becomes deeper as more tissue begins to die. In stage four, there is large scale tissue loss.
When bed sores progress to the later stages, they can lead to other complications that are fatal for nursing home residents. Three of the more common deadly problems arising from bed sores are osteomyelitis, sepsis, and gangrene.
Osteomyelitis: This condition is an infection of the bone. The infection starts at the affected tissue, moves into the bloodstream, and then travels to the bone. Often the infection can begin in the bone at stage 4.
Sepsis: Sepsis is a condition in which bacteria from the bed sore enters the bloodstream an infects other parts of the body. Sepsis may lead to organ failure and death if not treated quickly.
Gangrene: This is a condition where the body’s tissue dies due to loss of blood supply. In residents with bedsores, the loss of blood supply is the result of infection from the wound area.
Without fast, proper treatment, these three conditions may lead to death. In fact, in cases of septic shock, the mortality rate is as high as 50%.
If your loved has passed away at a nursing home or assisted living facility, and you are wondering if it was a result of bed sores, then please, feel free to call and speak to one of our experienced Georgia nursing home neglect lawyers today. Our consultations are always free.