Can I Sue A Nursing Home Over Bedsores In Nevada?

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Steven M. Burris - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Steven M. Burris

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Patients and families of patients who develop bedsores while staying in a nursing home, or other skilled nursing facilities, can file a lawsuit when those wounds are the result of negligence.

Bedsores, which are also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, occur as a result of prolonged pressure to the skin and mostly affect people with limited motion who spend most of their time in a bed or chair.

What Parts Of The Body Are Affected?

Bedsores develop when the blood supply is cut off to the skin for more than two or three hours. Wounds left untreated can extend into muscle and bone. The most likely affected areas are:

  • Tailbone, buttocks and hips
  • Heels of the feet
  • Back of the head
  • Backs and sides of knees
  • Shoulder blades

Bedsores Are Easily Preventable

Pressure ulcers are most likely to happen in hospitals and skilled nursing homes in patients with more extended stays and those whose bodies are in continuous contact with beds. Even if redness is discovered on a patient’s body, further problems can be avoided by:

  • Turning or repositioning the patient every two hours
  • Changing the patient’s position every 15 minutes if they are sitting upright in a wheelchair
  • Placing soft padding on beds and wheelchairs to reduce pressure
  • Keeping a patient’s skin clean and dry
  • Providing proper nutrition for patients as bedsores will not likely heal without appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals, fluids and protein

Complications Can Be Devastating

Bedsores are categorized from the least to most severe. Worst cases can result in life-threatening conditions, such as osteomyelitis, or bone infections, and sepsis. The four categories are:

  • Stage 1: The area is red and warm to the touch and may have a blue or purple tint for people with darker skin. The patient may complain that the area burns, itches or hurts.
  • Stage 2: The affected area has more damage, which may include a scrape, blister or open sore. The patient often complains of significant pain, and the area around the wound is discolored.
  • Stage 3: The area around the wound looks like a crater as the damage extends below the surface of the skin.
  • Stage 4: The affected part of the body is now severely damaged, and a large deep wound appears, which can affect bones, joints, muscles and tendons. Infection is a significant risk at this stage.

Bedsores Result From Nursing Home Negligence

With proper care by nursing staff and supervision by doctors, patients should never develop significant bedsores. Unfortunately, many companies that own skilled nursing facilities cut their operating costs with low staffing levels, resulting in high patient-to-nurse ratios.

Additionally, turning and cleaning patients are seen as unpleasant chores by many members of the nursing staff. Unless they are carefully supervised, some tend to ignore care standards and make false record entries claiming the tasks were done.

Filing A Claim Over Bedsores

Once pressure ulcers develop, patients or a family member should take pictures of the affected areas and insist that the nursing home take pictures as well, so there is a record. Many skilled nursing centers will try to hide these types of injuries by failing to document them.

Patients, or their loved ones, who experience this problem should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit against the facility to recover compensation and teach the owners a lesson, so this negligence is less likely to happen to someone else.

Take Action Immediately

The statute of limitations for filing a claim over bedsores varies from one to two years but is typically limited to one year after an injury is discovered. Families can sue even if their loved one has died. Medical documents must be kept for seven years, and your attorney can file a court order to obtain your loved one’s records if they have passed away.

Most nursing homes in Las Vegas are classified as skilled nursing centers, which is significant as they are not protected by caps on monetary damages in negligence cases that are given to other medical providers under Nevada law. Families can take further action by filing complaints with the appropriate state licensing agencies.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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