A woman has sued her nursing home in East St. Louis, the Madison County Record reported in December. The lawsuit alleges that the woman, who entered the home in 2000, developed pressure sores on her body because of neglect at the home. She also alleges that staff failed to treat the sores or give her medication. She is suing the parent company for the home for negligence as well as violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, which gives many legal rights to residents of nursing homes.
Pressure sores (also called bedsores or by their medical name, decubitus ulcers) may not sound too terrible, but they can actually be life-threatening. They often develop in patients who are bed-bound or wheelchair-bound, due to a combination of pressure, friction, humidity and sometimes medication. Malnutrition and underlying conditions like anemia can then make an existing bedsore worse. Pressure sores may look simply like a discoloration of the skin in the early stages (pinkness in light-skinned people; blue or purple patches in dark-skinned people), but as time goes on, they eventually come to resemble cuts or puncture wounds. Eventually, the body tissues under pressure are damaged and die, just like tissues with gangrene, and are likely to become infected.
Healthy people don’t generally develop pressure sores because they have the power to simply change position when they start feeling uncomfortable. That’s not the case for physically or mentally disabled people who need help to move. To prevent the sores, experts recommend that aides turn patients every two hours and help them maintain good hygiene and general health. This is especially important in nursing homes. According to an eMedicine article, 17% to 28% of patients in nursing homes have pressure sores, and two-thirds of the sores occur in patients over 70. Worse, even a patient who has healed from bedsores has a 90% chance of developing more.
Given the severe risk and relatively simple prevention of pressure sores, preventing them should be the top priority of any nursing home. Unfortunately, these basic tasks are often the first to go in cases of nursing home neglect. And many of the other features of nursing home neglect, such as malnutrition and poor hygiene, can make pressure sores even worse and invite infections, sometimes life-threatening infections. In a patient already weakened by illness or age, this can be a health care disaster leading to serious illness, a health decline or even death. If you believe someone you love has developed serious bedsores because of neglect at a nursing home, you can and should hold it legally responsible with an Illinois nursing home neglect lawsuit. To speak with one of our Chicago nursing home lawyers today, please contact us through our Web site or call (312) 475-9596.