Tampa Bedsore Attorneys
Patients who are bedbound in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility are at increased risk for developing bedsores (commonly called pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers). When health care providers fail to properly turn and position bed-bound patients, avoidable bed sores develop. These wounds can deteriorate rapidly becoming life-threating injuries. In most cases the injuries are completely preventable, and their development is a clear sign of neglect by facility staff.
At the Fernandez Firm, our Tampa bedsore attorneys have been prosecuting negligent health care facilities on behalf of injured patients for over twenty years. Our attorneys have won over $100 million in settlements and verdicts. With a reputation for professionalism and history of success, we hold health care providers accountable for the increased medical expenses associated with these injuries — most of which are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurers —and resulting damages.
Please contact our firm today, to learn how we can help 1-800-222-8163.
What is a Bedsore/Pressure Sore
A bedsore or pressure sore is a lesion to the skin and underlying tissues caused by prolonged pressure. These injuries characteristically develop over a bony prominence where bones are in close proximity to the skin surface (For example, on the tailbone, hips, ankles or heels).
These sores typically develop on patients with no or limited mobility, who are forced to rely on nurses, nursing staff, aids or medical assistants to move, shift, turn or reposition. Pressure ulcers are classified into four distinct categories — known as stages:
- Stage 1: The patient’s skin is intact but appears red in color, even when pressure is removed. At this stage, sores may be painful, firm, soft, warm or cool. Stage 1 sores may be very difficult to recognize on patient with darker skin tones.
- Stage 2: The patient’s skin is broken appearing like a shallow open sore with a pink wound bed. At this stage, these sores may also present an intact or open bloody fluid-filled blister.
- Stage 3: These sores have visible damage to skin and underlying fat tissues and often present with red edges, pus, odor and visible drainage. However, at this stage muscle, tendon and bone tissues are not exposed.
- Stage 4: These wounds are deep and large with tendons, muscles and bones visible. Undermining and tunneling are often present with slough and eschar.
Unstageable: An unstageable pressure sore is an ulcer whose actual depth cannot be determined because it is completely obscured by slough and eschar (often yellow, green, brown, tan, gray or black in color). The true stage of these wounds cannot be determined until this material is removed by debridement exposing the depth of the wound. Once this material is removed these wounds will, at a minimum, be a stage 3 or 4 pressure sore.
IMPT: Photograph Pressure Sores
Historically, most medical facilities would measure and photograph a patient’s pressure sores weekly to assess whether the wounds were improving with medical treatment. Today, many facilities intentionally do not photograph or document the size, stage or severity of these wound, in an attempt to deter potential litigation and avoid liability. If your loved one has developed a pressure or bedsore, it is critical you consult with a lawyer who specializes and regularly handles these distinct personal injury cases. It is also very important that you photograph all pressure/bedsores weekly, dating each photograph or hire a law firm with experienced investigators to assist you. Finally, it is critical that you make sure your family member is being turned and positioned at least every 2 hours — AT A MINIMUM — by the facility’s staff and regularly report any complaints, in writing, to management officials and the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
What Causes Pressure Sores?
Patients who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair or have difficulty moving or changing positions without assistance are at higher risk of developing pressure sores/ulcers. Other risk factors include the following:
- External Pressure. Over areas of the body where blood flow to the skin is restricted by bony prominences.
- Friction. Typically occurs when a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility patient is pulled or moved across bed sheets, slides up and down when their bed is elevated or is transferred to or from bed by facility staff
- Sheer. Occurs when a patient sticks to their sheets when they are pulled or moved in bed. The skin is torn or injured as it separates from the underlying tissue.
- Moisture. Perspiration, urine, diarrhea and feces can cause skin breakdown and damage.
Most healthcare providers rely on the “Braden Scale” — which is available online — to assess their patient’s risk for developing pressure sores and the level of care required to prevent these avoidable injuries.
Preventing Avoidable Pressure Sores
If you are concerned your loved one many be at risk for developing a bedsore/pressure sores the manner of prevention is to:
- Keep the skin day and clean;
- Make sure your loved one is turned and repositioned, every 2 hours at a minimum; and,
- Use pillows, foam wedge devises and specialty boots to relieve pressure points on body parts at greater risk.
Medical treatment for pressure sores varies, depending upon the size, stage and severity and of the wound. More advanced wounds are often slow to heal and at risk for life-threatening complications. For these reasons, early detection and appropriate medical treatment is critical to a patient’s well-being.
Contact a Tampa Pressure Sore Lawyer Today!
If you or a loved one has questions regarding a pressure sore or bedsore injury in Tampa, our attorneys and staff of investigators, legal assistants and paralegals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your potential case.