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.
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.
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.
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.
Contrary to what many people believe, bedsores aren’t a natural part of aging and simply something that someone should expect to deal with as they age. Instead, bedsores are a painful condition that can result in infection or even death. They’re almost always a sign of negligence in the care of an elderly or immobile person.
You should feel that you can trust the staff at the nursing facility where your family member resides to provide adequate care to maintain his or her quality of life. Unfortunately, many nursing homes fail to uphold the responsibility that they owe their patients. The Fernandez Firm fights hard for our elderly clients and their family members to obtain compensation in nursing home negligence cases.
Some of our results include:
- A $1.9 million settlement for the family of a 76-year-old nursing home resident who died from multiple avoidable bedsores and a lack of adequate medical care.
- A $2.3 million recovery for the family of a nursing home resident who died after being dumped out of her wheelchair when the CNA responsible for her care attempted to wheel her face-first down an embankment.
If your loved one has experienced bed sores while in a hospital or nursing home, read on for answers to questions regarding bedsore claims that we most often hear from our Tampa clients. If you have questions about your specific case, contact an experienced attorney from the Fernandez Firm for a free case evaluation.
Why are bedsores a sign of neglect?
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law established the rights of U.S. nursing home residents. Nursing homes must uphold these rights to maintain their Medicare/Medicaid certifications. Among these rights are the right to have the facility maintain or improve one’s quality of life, the right to receive adequate medical care, the right to remain informed of changes in one’s medical status, and the right to receive one’s basic needs, such as food and water.
Bedsores often indicate a violation of these rights.
Bedsores usually occur because of continued pressure on a certain area of the skin as the result of sitting or lying in one position too long. Other causes include moisture and bacteria on the skin from incontinence as well as poor nutrition and dehydration. All of these bedsore causes point to neglect.
What should I do if I suspect that my loved one is suffering from neglect in a nursing home?
If you believe that your loved one is suffering from neglect in a nursing home, report your suspicions as soon as possible. You can do so by contacting the adult protective services division of the state’s Department of Children and Families. You can also file a report through the long-term care ombudsmen program in your area, which is designed to address the complaints made against nursing home facilities.
If you believe that your loved one is in immediate danger of injury or death, you can also file a report with your local police department.
Either way, when you file your report, the adult protective services division must investigate the complaint, including through a face-to-face visit with the victim.
Once you have reported your suspicions, you should call an attorney to learn more about the legal process of obtaining compensation for your loved one’s injuries. (In fact, if you call us first, we can help you file those reports.) Your lawyer can seek to prove who was liable (legally responsible) for the injury and show the expenses and impacts that the resident has incurred.
My father died from bedsores. May I pursue compensation?
Yes. In Florida, certain family members of a deceased individual can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts that they have incurred because of the loss through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages (compensation) may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses paid by the family member or the estate for the treatment of the deceased person’s final injuries.
- Loss of care, support, companionship, and guidance provided by the deceased to his or her loved ones.
How do I know who is liable for my loved one’s bedsores in Tampa?
In a bedsore case, the individual staff members responsible for providing care to your loved one may face liability, as well as the facility, which is responsible for hiring, training, and ensuring that the staff members uphold rights of hospital patients and nursing home residents.
To prove liability, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is defined as the way a reasonably prudent professional tasked with running or working for a hopspital or nursing home would respond in similar circumstances.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions (or failure to act) that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care. Examples include failing to promptly clean and change the clothing of an incontinent resident to prevent the development of bedsores, failure to provide adequate nutrition and hydration to keep the resident’s skin from breaking down, and failure to reposition a resident as directed in the care plan of an immobile resident.
Who inspects nursing homes to uphold the resident’s rights in Tampa?
For Medicare/ Medicaid certified nursing homes, the federal government works with state surveyors who perform inspections of the facilities once each year to 18 months. The inspections look at all aspects of patient care and fire safety in the facility. Deficient nursing homes get time to correct the issue. State surveyors return to ensure the facility mitigated the problem. A failure to address the situation adequately can result in fines or even withholding of Medicare/Medicaid payments to the facility.
Nursing homes must allow residents, prospective residents, and residents’ family members to see a copy of the facilities’ most recent health and fire safety inspections; these documents are also available online. Facilities offering long-term care, short-term care, or both will receive an assessment and star-rating on the site. Facilities with many deficiencies can get high ratings, however, leading residents and their loved ones to a false sense of security about the quality of care the facility provides.
If a Tampa bedsore lawsuit is filed in my mother’s case, will she have to testify?
Because most bedsore cases resolve before they ever see the inside of a courtroom, in all likelihood, your mother will not need to testify. However, if the case goes to trial, your attorney will consider whether the testimony would help and may encourage it if the court needs to hear directly from your mother. Your attorney will keep you apprised of this possibility and will take steps to properly prepare your mother for her day in court if that’s necessary.
My father is worried that if I report his bedsores, facility staff will retaliate. Should I worry?
The federal nursing home reform laws also protect nursing home residents from retaliation by staff for complaints made about the facility’s level of care. While this does not guarantee that retaliation won’t take place, it does provide additional legal ramifications for the facility to deal with if it does. Suspected retaliation is something to mention to your bedsore attorney, as we can provide an extra set of eyes to look at the allegations and determine the best way to address the situation.
What damages are recoverable in a Tampa bedsore lawsuit?
If you are filing a lawsuit related to bedsores you developed, or if you are assisting a loved one in filing a suit, you can obtain compensation for expenses and quality-of-life impacts, such as:
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the injury.
- The cost of relocating the resident to a hospital or nursing home where they can receive adequate care.
- Quality-of-life impacts such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
If a loved one died due to neglect, you can obtain compensation for:
- Medical expenses for the treatment of the deceased’s final injury paid by the family or the estate.
- Loss of companionship, care, support, and guidance provided to the family members by the deceased.
- Funeral and burial or cremation expenses.
How long do I have to file a Tampa bedsore lawsuit?
It will depend on who was responsible for allowing the bedsores to form—a hospital, a nursing home, or a private caretaker—and whether a wrongful death resulted.
You don’t want to wait, because evidence and witnesses disappear with time, and your lawyer needs time to gather evidence and present a case.
Call us now so we can evaluate your case and get started.
Do I have to pay taxes on the settlement I received for my Tampa bedsore claim?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, funds received as compensation are not considered income and are not taxable. However, if you received punitive damages as part of an award, that portion is taxable. Punitive damages do not compensate for an injury, they punish a defendant financially for particularly egregious actions.
How can your Tampa bedsore lawyers help with my case?
Many people feel tempted to file a bedsore claim on their own, but this is often a mistake. Bedsore claims not only involve a complicated and time-consuming legal process, but also require knowledge about discovery, the types of evidence you need to prove a bedsore claim, and other information that someone who hasn’t been to law school or worked within the system likely won’t know.
Your Tampa bedsore lawyer can help obtain compensation for you with:
- A free case evaluation in which you can obtain answers to the questions you have about your specific case, learn more about the firm, and receive guidance about your legal options.
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources you can access to provide your compensation.
- A valuation of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred as well as those you will likely incur in the future.
- The timely filing of all court-required paperwork and attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings on your behalf.
- The collection and organization of evidence and testimony needed to prove your case.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting an offered settlement.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing arguments, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
The experienced nursing home negligence attorneys at the Fernandez Firm are ready to begin exploring your legal options for obtaining compensation in your bedsore case. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (813) 278-1032. When you contact us, you can discuss the details of your situation and determine your best course of action.
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.
At the Fernandez Firm, we are known for being experienced trial attorneys who have achieve record-setting results. While we are honored by our accomplishments, what we are most proud of are the thank you letters and reviews we have received from so many of our wonderful clients.