Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, are a serious medical condition that can occur when a person is confined to a bed or wheelchair for an extended period. Unfortunately, pressure ulcers are a common problem in nursing homes, and Pennsylvania is no exception. A Philadelphia nursing home lawyer represents clients who have been injured from a preventable pressure ulcer.
Pressure Ulcers as a Sign of Neglect
When a nursing home resident develops a pressure ulcer, it can be a sign of neglect or abuse. Pressure ulcers are preventable with proper care and attention, and nursing homes have a legal duty to provide their residents with a safe and healthy environment.
However, despite this duty, nursing homes in Pennsylvania often fail to take the necessary steps to prevent pressure ulcers from occurring. This can lead to serious harm to nursing home residents, and it is a form of nursing home negligence that can give rise to legal claims for damages.
In this blog post, a Philadelphia nursing home lawyer will explore the issue of pressure ulcer claims at Pennsylvania nursing homes, including the causes of pressure ulcers, the legal standards for nursing home care, and the types of damages that may be available in a pressure ulcer claim.
Causes of Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Homes
Pressure ulcers are caused by prolonged pressure on a particular area of the skin. This pressure can cause the skin and underlying tissue to break down, leading to an open sore or wound. There are several factors that can increase the risk of pressure ulcers in nursing home residents:
- Immobility: Nursing home residents who are confined to a bed or wheelchair for extended periods of time are at increased risk of developing pressure ulcers.
- Poor nutrition and hydration: Residents who are malnourished or dehydrated are more susceptible to pressure ulcers.
- Incontinence: Residents who are incontinent may be more prone to developing pressure ulcers due to moisture and irritation.
- Friction and shear: Friction and shear can occur when a resident is moved or repositioned improperly, leading to damage to the skin and underlying tissue.
- Medical conditions: Residents with medical conditions such as diabetes, vascular disease, or neurological disorders may be more prone to developing pressure ulcers.
Pressure Ulcer Complications
Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, can lead to a variety of complications if left untreated or if not properly managed. Here are some common complications that can arise from pressure ulcers:
- Infection: Pressure ulcers are open wounds that can become infected with bacteria or other microorganisms. Infection can lead to fever, chills, redness, and increased pain and swelling around the ulcer. In severe cases, infection can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.
- Sepsis: Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that can develop when an infection spreads throughout the body. Pressure ulcers can increase the risk of sepsis, especially in elderly or immunocompromised individuals. When residents pass away from sepsis related to an infected pressure ulcer, a Philadelphia nursing home lawyer may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Cellulitis: Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can develop around a pressure ulcer. It causes redness, swelling, and warmth around the affected area, and can spread quickly if not treated promptly.
- Osteomyelitis: Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that can occur when pressure ulcers are left untreated. It can cause severe pain and swelling and may require surgery to remove infected tissue and bone.
- Gangrene: In severe cases, pressure ulcers can cause tissue death (necrosis) in the affected area. This can lead to the development of gangrene, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
- Loss of mobility: Pressure ulcers can cause pain and discomfort that makes it difficult for a person to move around. Over time, this can lead to a loss of mobility and independence.
- Reduced quality of life: Living with pressure ulcers can be physically and emotionally draining, and can greatly reduce a person’s quality of life. It can limit their ability to engage in activities they enjoy and can cause significant pain and discomfort.
It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you or a loved one develops a pressure ulcer, to prevent these and other potential complications.
Legal Standards for Nursing Home Care
Nursing homes in Pennsylvania are required to provide a certain standard of care to their residents. Federal and state regulations outline that nursing homes must follow to provide safe and adequate care to residents.
Under federal law, nursing homes have a legal duty to provide their residents with:
- Adequate food and fluids
- Proper hygiene and grooming
- Appropriate medical care
- Safe and clean environment
- Protection from neglect and abuse
In addition, nursing homes must take steps to prevent pressure ulcers from developing in their residents. This includes:
- Regularly repositioning residents who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound
- Ensuring that residents are clean and dry
- Monitoring residents for signs of pressure ulcers
- Providing appropriate medical treatment for pressure ulcers
- Providing appropriate nutrition and hydration
When nursing homes fail to provide this standard of care, they may be liable for damages if a resident develops a pressure ulcer. A Philadelphia nursing home lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm is well informed of nursing home regulations and has litigated numerous pressure ulcer lawsuits throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Types of Damages in Pressure Ulcer Claims
If a nursing home resident develops a pressure ulcer due to nursing home negligence, a Philadelphia nursing home lawyer can help the resident or their family file a claim for damages. Damages in a pressure ulcer claim may include:
- Medical expenses: The cost of medical treatment for the pressure ulcer, including hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
- Pain and suffering: The physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the pressure ulcer.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: The loss of enjoyment of life caused by the pressure ulcer, including the inability to engage in activities or hobbies that the resident enjoyed prior to the development of a pressure ulcer
- Disfigurement: If the pressure ulcer causes scarring or other permanent disfigurement, the resident may be entitled to damages for the impact on their physical appearance.
- Disability: In severe cases, pressure ulcers can lead to permanent disabilities that limit a resident’s mobility and ability to perform daily activities. In such cases, the resident may be entitled to damages for their reduced quality of life and increased medical needs.
- Wrongful death: If a resident dies because of complications from a pressure ulcer, their family may be able to bring a wrongful death claim and seek damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the emotional impact of their loved one’s death.
It is important to note that the types and amount of damages that may be available in a pressure ulcer claim will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. An experienced Philadelphia nursing home lawyer can help a resident or their family understand their legal options and seek the maximum possible compensation for their losses.
How Long Does a Nursing Home Lawsuit Take?
Clients often wonder, “how long does a nursing home lawsuit take?” The length of time it takes to resolve a nursing home lawsuit can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the court’s schedule. In general, nursing home lawsuits can take anywhere from several months to several years to resolve.
The initial phase of a nursing home lawsuit involves filing a complaint with the court, which outlines the allegations of negligence or abuse against the nursing home. The nursing home will then have the opportunity to respond to the complaint and may file a motion to dismiss the case or seek other pretrial rulings.
After the initial pleadings are filed, the parties will typically engage in a period of discovery, during which they exchange evidence and information relevant to the case. This can involve depositions of witnesses, requests for documents, and other forms of evidence gathering.
Once discovery is complete, the parties may attempt to resolve the case through mediation or settlement negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will hear the evidence and decide as to whether the nursing home was negligent or abusive.
The length of time it takes to resolve a nursing home lawsuit can depend on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the court’s schedule. In some cases, a settlement may be reached relatively quickly, while in other cases, it may take several years to resolve the matter through trial.
It is important to keep in mind that nursing home lawsuits can be emotionally and financially draining for the plaintiff and their family, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process and protect your rights. Speaking with a Philadelphia nursing home lawyer can help you answer the question, “how long does a nursing home lawsuit take.”
Examples of Pressure Ulcer Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
There have been successful pressure ulcer lawsuits in Pennsylvania, where nursing homes have been found liable for their negligence in causing or contributing to the development of pressure ulcers in their residents. Here are some examples:
- Estate of Antoinette Riddle v. Genesis Healthcare LLC: In 2016, a jury in Montgomery County awarded $10 million to the estate of Antoinette Riddle, a nursing home resident who developed pressure ulcers during her stay at a Genesis Healthcare facility. The jury found that the nursing home was negligent in failing to provide Riddle with appropriate care and treatment for her pressure ulcers, which ultimately led to her death.
- Estate of Gladys K. Mensinger v. Manorcare Health Services: In 2014, a jury in York County awarded $4 million to the estate of Gladys Mensinger, a nursing home resident who developed multiple pressure ulcers during her stay at a Manorcare Health Services facility. The jury found that the nursing home was negligent in failing to prevent and treat Mensinger’s pressure ulcers, which caused her significant pain and suffering.
- John Gbur v. West Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center: In 2018, a jury in Luzerne County awarded $5.2 million to John Gbur, a nursing home resident who developed multiple pressure ulcers during his stay at West Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The jury found that the nursing home was negligent in failing to prevent and treat Gbur’s pressure ulcers, which caused him significant pain and suffering and ultimately led to his death.
- Estate of Dorothy Lingenfelter v. Golden Living Center: In 2017, a jury in Cumberland County awarded $5 million to the estate of Dorothy Lingenfelter, a nursing home resident who developed multiple pressure ulcers during her stay at a Golden Living Center facility. The jury found that the nursing home was negligent in failing to prevent and treat Lingenfelter’s pressure ulcers, which caused her significant pain and suffering and ultimately led to her death.
These cases demonstrate the serious consequences of nursing home negligence in preventing and treating pressure ulcers. They also show that nursing homes can be held accountable for their actions through legal action, which may result in significant compensation for the resident or their family. A Philadelphia nursing home lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm provides experienced representation to families who have suffered losses from nursing home negligence.
Call The Wieand Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one has suffered a pressure ulcer at a nursing home, it’s important to seek legal assistance from an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system. The Wieand Law Firm has a proven track record of success in handling cases related to nursing home abuse and neglect, including cases involving pressure ulcers. With a focus on client satisfaction, the attorneys at Wieand Law Firm will provide you with personalized attention and dedicated representation throughout your case. Contact Wieand Law Firm today for a free consultation and to discuss your legal options. With no money out of pocket, you can trust that your case will be handled with care and compassion. Call (215) 666-7777 or visit their website to schedule a consultation today.