Often from the onset of bedsores, also described as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, victims in a hospital or nursing home are led to believe it is their fault. They may be led to believe they don’t have a right to sue and that there is no chance for compensation. It’s simply not true.
Below are some facts about lawsuits and your rights as a patient and victim.
You are able to sue for and recover a monetary award from new injuries and infections and the aggravation of old ones caused by bedsores or pressure ulcers.
The defendants insurance company may ask you for a recorded statement describing the appearance of bedsores and your treatment. Remember you have no obligation to give them such a statement, nor is it wise to do so.
The defendant’s insurance company will ask you for authorizations to obtain your medical records. DON’T DO IT. Let your attorney release your records after he or she has reviewed them. It’s best not to offer information by yourself.
Some insurance companies will offer you money to settle the case before you contact an attorney. In this situation the insurance company knows they will have to pay out money and they hope to settle the claim before you hire an attorney who can negotiate and demand a higher amount. Always consult an attorney if an insurance company is offering you money. By doing so you will in all likelihood increase your net recovery even after taking out the lawyers fee.
Once a bedsore case is settled and the defendant is released, regardless of whether you make a full recovery or not, the money you received cannot be taken away, it is your money…tax free.
Nursing home neglect and abuse is often difficult to detect, and families should be on the lookout for common warning signs for physical, emotional and financial abuse.
Common warning signs of physical abuse are:
Untreated bedsores, pressure sores, wounds, cuts, bruises, or welts
Abnormally pale complexion
Bruises in a pattern that would suggest restraints
Excessive and sudden weight loss
Fleas, lice, or dirt on or in the room
Poor personal hygiene, unpleasant odors or other unattended health problems
Torn clothing or broken personal items
Bleeding around private parts
Bruises around the breast/genital region
An unexpected look of fear from the elder when aide may be present
Common warning signs of emotional abuse are:
Intimidation through yelling and threats
Ignoring the patient
Isolating the patient from other residents and/or activities
Terrorizing the patient
Mocking the patient
Financial exploitation is another form of abuse. An unscrupulous caregiver may:
Misuse checks, accounts, or credit cards
Steal money, steal checks, or steal belongings
Authorize withdrawals or transfer of monies
Steal the patient’s identity
No family is exempt from any of these possibilities. Abuse affects the rich and poor. Suffering sustained by the elderly ranges from financial, to emotional and physical. Abuse escalating to physical can result in severe infections, amputations, dehydration and, unfortunately, death. A lawsuit should be filed on behalf of your loved one to get the justice your family deserves. Compensation may cover the costs of treatment and recovery, as well as compensation for non-financial hardships such as pain and suffering.
If you suspect elder abuse of any kind speak up and demand answers of those in charge.
Feel free to contact me for more information or inquire about a lawsuit.
Via Donovan Slack, USA TODAY, and Andrea Estes, The Boston Globe
Don Ruch’s family thought round-the-clock care would help him recuperate, but he ended up in intensive care in septic shock, suffering from “severe” malnutrition, bedsores on his pelvis and back, a burn on his right thigh and a trauma wound. USA TODAY
An analysis of internal documents shows residents at more than two-thirds of Department of Veterans Affairs nursing homes last year were more likely to have serious bedsores, as well as suffer serious pain, than their counterparts in private nursing homes across the country.
The analysis suggests large numbers of veterans suffered potential neglect or medication mismanagement and provides a fuller picture of the state of care in the 133 VA nursing homes that serve 46,000 sick and infirm military veterans each year.
More than 100 VA nursing homes scored worse than private nursing homes on a majority of key quality indicators, which include rates of infection and decline in daily living skills, according to the analysis of data withheld by the VA from public view but obtained by USA TODAY and The Boston Globe.
Four VA facilities – nursing homes in Bedford, Massachusetts; Chillicothe, Ohio; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Roseburg, Oregon – lagged private nursing home averages on 10 of 11 indicators. At all four, about a third of residents were given anti-psychotic drugs – almost twice as much as in the private sector. The FDA has said such drugs are associated with an increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia.
“They should be assessing individuals and doing what they can to manage it,” said Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. “And if it’s not working, they should be trying different things.”
The VA, which has argued that its residents are typically sicker than those in private facilities, has tracked the detailed quality data for more than two years but has kept it secret, depriving veterans of potentially crucial health care information.
VA ‘evaluating’ what information to release
VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour has declined to answer questions about whether or when the agency planned to release the quality information, as well as nursing home staff data the VA has compiled dating to 2004. He also declined to say when the VA would release inspection reports the agency has kept secret for more than a decade.
“We cannot work with this administration or any administration to fix the VA if we don’t have the information,’’ Jones said.
Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke told the CBS affiliate in Dallas last week that VA officials were “evaluating exactly what is the most appropriate for us to put out there and that will support continuous improvement and then also will provide good decision-making information for veterans.”
He called the USA TODAY and Globe reporting on the VA nursing home ratings “fake news.”
Federal regulations require private nursing homes to disclose voluminous data on the care they provide. The federal government uses the data to calculate quality measures and posts them on a federal website, along with inspection results and staffing information. But the rules don’t apply to the VA.
Playing ‘hide the ball’ with nursing home data
The VA has used similar data internally to track quality at its nursing homes as far back as 2011, according to a report in October that year from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. At that point, the agency monitored at least two dozen factors, including how many residents had bedsores or were in serious pain. But none of the information was released.
The VA launched another tracking system in May 2016. It now measures 11 indicators – the same as those used for private nursing homes – and assigns star ratings based on the indicators, which can be clues to larger problems with overall quality. For example, high rates of falls or bedsores may indicate neglect.
Pressure Ulcers and Bedsores can progress quickly and can be deadly. The first thing you should do is remove pressure from the area and speak to a nurse on duty to begin to remedy the situation. Be aware that the nurse may not have a full understanding of these injuries and you will need the attention of a wound care specialist and medical doctor.
Yes, you can sue! Pressure Ulcers are often a sign of neglect and sometimes a sign of abuse or malpractice. They occur when someone is immobile and there is not adequate blood flow. Then the affected tissue dies and an ulcerated sore develops.
In a nursing home or hospital it is the responsibility of the nursing staff to check and turn the patient regularly. There are laws in place that protect patients and you should know that these injuries are not the fault of the patient. The patient is the victim. If a loved one you know is suffering they may have a valuable, financially rewarding lawsuit. In the New York area, millions of dollars have been awarded to pressure sore victims and their families.
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) defines a pressure ulcer as a “localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear.” Illustrations of common locations of pressure ulcers are shown below:
These injuries can lead to further medical problems, infections, sepsis, amputation and even death. Whether malpractice, abuse or neglect it is simply unjust and unnecessary for it to happen to an innocent patient.
Call today for a free consultation to find out the value of a lawsuit or for more information: 212-268-8200, or 800-278-2960