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Bed Sores – Neglect in Nursing Homes, Rehab Hospitals & Long Term Care Facilities in Pennsylvania
Bed sores occur when a patient or nursing home resident is neglected, plain and simple. They occur most often in bony areas, such as the shoulder, back, tailbone, hip, elbow or heel and develop when an immobile patient lies in bed or sits in a wheelchair without being turned or moved.
Also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bed sores can begin to develop in as little as 2-3 hours, and once they develop, they are often slow to heal. While patients of nursing homes are particularly at risk for bed sores, patients who’ve recently undergone surgery are also at risk. In fact, hospital-acquired bed sores are a serious problem in Pennsylvania.
These wounds result from lack of blood flow and pressure which cause the skin and surrounding tissue to deteriorate. Over time, bed sores cause serious tissue wounds and injuries. In extreme cases, bed sores can result in life-threatening infections. Left untreated, these infections can cause sepsis, which for patients in nursing homes, rehab hospitals or other facilities, can lead to death.
Risk factors for bed sores include:
- lack of physical activity,
- decreased mental abilities/consciousness,
- urinary or fecal incontinence,
- diabetes, and
In addition, the elderly are particularly at risk for developing bed sores. When coupled with another risk factor, like diabetes or incontinence, elderly patients and residents of nursing homes are at increased risk of death.
Our Pennsylvania injury law firm accepts bed sore injury cases across Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County and Bucks County. Call for a FREE consultation. (610) 825-0500
Amended Law Helps Patients File Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Claims, Effective January 1, 2023
As of January 1, 2023, a change to Pennsylvania's Rules of Civil Procedure will give patients the ability to choose where to file their medical malpractice lawsuits. Previously, patients were required to file medical malpractice claims in the county where the negligent conduct occurred. In January, cases may be filed in any county where 1. the defendant can be served (i.e., does business, has an office, etc.), 2. the negligent conduct took place, or 3. a relevant transaction or event took place.
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Bed Sore Stages
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel divides bed sores into 4 stages, with 2 additional stages (added in 2007).
Stage 1: The area is red, blue or purple, depending on the patient’s skin color. The area is also warm and often accompanied by burning, itching or pain.
Stage 2: The area of discoloration becomes larger, irritated and may have a sore or blister.
Stage 3: The area develops a crater or hole due to damage under the skin.
Stage 4: The entire area is damaged, and a larger wound appears. At this stage, the sore has usually progressed to the muscles, tendons, bones and joints. Infection risk is highest in this stage.
Suspected deep-tissue injury: Localized purple or dark red discoloration or involvement of a blood blister. The wound may quickly become a stage 3 or 4 bed sore, even with proper treatment.
Unstageable: Loss of tissue that can’t be staged because of the presence of necrotic/dead tissue which prevents proper identification.
Pennsylvania Bed Sore Reporting
Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers are reportable events under Pennsylvania law, specifically, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act, and over the last decade, these infections have remained a serious issue in Pennsylvania hospitals and medical facilities. In 2013, medical facilities in Pennsylvania reported over 30,000 skin related events (56% were bed sores) to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.
The national trend mirrors Pennsylvania’s. According to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, The Incidence of Pressure Ulcers and its Associations in Different Wards of the Hospital: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, there are about 2.5 million hospitalizations in the United States due to bed sores, with a frequency of bed sores between 8% and 40%, depending on the medical care setting.
In addition, the study found that stages 1 and 2 have an incidence rate of 45%, and stages 3 and 4 have an incidence rate of 4%. The study also found that in hospital settings, the highest incidence of bed sores occurred among orthopedic surgery patients followed by cancer patients.
Negligence & Bed Sores in Pennsylvania Nursing Homes, Rehab Hospitals & Facilities
Bed sores are 100% preventable and occur due to negligence on the part of the medical facility, such as lack of proper training, understaffing or failure in adherence to policies.
For example, a patient who has undergone serious back surgery is immobilized for several days, recovering in a rehab hospital outside of Philadelphia. The facility is understaffed, and nursing assistants are poorly trained in the protocols for preventing bed sores. As a result, the patient develops a bed sore that becomes infected, leading to septic shock. A day later, the patient dies from the infection.
Compensation Claims in Bed Sore Injury Cases
When a nursing home resident or patient in a rehab facility develops a serious bed sore, they may be able to file lawsuits against the facilities to recover compensation for their pain and suffering, medical bills, etc.
Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law Firm – Bed Sore Injury Cases in Philadelphia, Delaware & Montgomery Counties
The Morris Wilson Knepp Jacquette law firm achieved a Best Law Firm rating by U.S. News & World Report in the areas of medical malpractice law and personal injury law from 2016 until the rating was discontinued in August 2023. For over 25 years, our medical malpractice law firm has been advocating for patients across Pennsylvania. We’ve successfully represented patients against hospitals and medical facilities in Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Call for a FREE consultation at (610) 825-0500.
Last updated: August 23, 2023
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