Experienced Chicago Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers Handling Claims Involving Bedsores
Learn more about bedsores and how restraints can lead to these infections
None of us ever want to find out that our loved is a victim of neglect in a nursing home. But neglect happens, and it happens more often than we want to think. Our elderly citizens are among the most vulnerable of our population, and when they’re in a nursing facility, we have to rely on the staff to ensure they receive the professional care and dignity to which they’re entitled.
When nursing home staff fails in their responsibilities, the attorneys at Gainsberg Law will step in and protect the rights of your loved ones. Our Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers will fight to ensure that any abuse is stopped and the negligent parties are held responsible, so this type of terrible situation never happens again.
Bedsores are a red flag that neglect is occurring. Bedsores can have many causes, and one of these is overuse of restraints.
Bedsores in nursing homes
Bedsores, also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, form when there is unrelieved pressure on the skin. When untreated, they can cause serious infections and other life-threatening problems. Pressure sores happen most frequently on parts of the body where the bone is closest to the skin, like the hips, back, elbow, ankle, or heels. Nursing home residents are particularly susceptible to bedsores because they often remain sedentary in a bed or wheelchair.
Pressure ulcers are an increasingly common problem in nursing homes, and primarily occur due to improper medical care and a lack of attention. Care facilities have a responsibility to their residents to identify and treat bedsores immediately.
In nursing homes, staff must be well-educated and informed about bedsores and treat residents promptly. Bedsores are nearly always preventable with proper care, assessments, readjustments, and nutrition. Position changes should be performed as often as possible for any resident who has difficulty moving on their own.
For at-risk residents, staff should assess them at least once a day. This staff should be educated about the warning signs of bedsores, and check the resident for any signs that pressure ulcers might be developing.
Warning signs include:
- Painful or irritated skin
- Reddish or discolored skin
- Lack of blanching (lightening of skin when pressure is put on it)
- Open wounds
Another risk factor for developing pressure sores is improper nutrition or hydration. Nursing homes are responsible for providing their residents with nutritious food and hydration. Vitamins, minerals, and fluids all keep the skin healthy, and healthy skin is less likely to become damaged. Another common risk factor is the use of restraints on patients, to keep them immobile.
Physical and chemical restraints and nursing homes
Restraints are any kind of device or drug that is used on patients to restrict their movement and keep them from hurting themselves or others. Restraints can be both physical or chemical. Although the use of restraints has declined over the past decade or two, they are still used in some nursing homes. Sometimes this is due to the culture of the nursing home—staff may believe they can’t do their job effectively without restraints, and aren’t willing to try less harmful alternatives.
Physical restraints are any type of physical device or method used on a patient’s body. Devices include:
- Arm restraints
- Leg restraints
- Bed rails
- Ties or vests
- Lap trays and cushions
Methods staff might use to restrain a patient include pushing a bed or wheelchair against a wall to restrict movement, or raising a bed so high the patient can’t get down.
Chemical restraints, on the other hand, are drugs that sedate a patient. The types of drugs listed below are considered to be chemical restraints when used for convenience or punishment rather than medical reasons—like disciplining a resident or making them easier for staff to control. Chemical restraints are typically medications like:
- Mood stabilizers
Even if your loved one doesn’t require any medications for proper medical care, it’s important you still monitor their overall health and behavior to ensure staff isn’t using any of these drugs as chemical restraint.
Signs your loved one may have been drugged by the nursing home staff
If a loved one is on these drugs, you may notice a change in their behavior, like the following signs and symptoms:
- Excessive sleeping
- Decreased fine motor skills
Make a point of knowing and understanding all the medications your loved one takes in their nursing home and ensure they’re taking only what’s absolutely necessary for proper treatment.
Psychotropic and sedative-type drugs cannot be legally administered to a resident without a doctor’s order. This order must specify the medical reason for the drug, the conditions under which it will be administered, and how long the prescription will last. The nursing home also must get informed consent from the patient or the family before they can administer the drug.
These measures should prevent the use of chemical restraints, but unfortunately in some cases, they don’t. Sometimes families aren’t given enough information about the medication’s risks or side effects, and provide consent when they wouldn’t have when given proper information. It’s always important to find out a drug’s medical purpose.
How restraints can lead to bedsores
Restraints can be harmful to residents, both psychologically and physically. Nursing home staff should approach problem residents with interventions like trying to make them more physically comfortable, adjusting medication, or providing companionship and activities to occupy them.
Overuse of restraints can cause harm to a resident, including pressure sores. A patient with physical restraints has limited mobility, plus pressure applied at the site of the restraints (many times the wrists and ankles). Chemical restraints cause sedation, which leads to a decline in mobility. This can all lead to skin breakdown and dangerous bedsores.
Suffering from bedsores can also cause physical pain, as well as a feeling of isolation from being unable to move around or participate in activities.
Nursing home residents have the right to refuse chemical and physical restraints. It’s imperative for you and your loved ones to remember that they have rights.
Contact a compassionate Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer today
If your loved one is showing signs of neglect like pressure ulcers or bedsores, contact the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at Gainsberg Law. Everyone deserves compassion and respect, and our goal is to protect the residents of our nursing homes from harm. We’ll do everything we can to bring guilty and negligent parties to justice. Get in touch with us through our contact form, or by calling 312.313.1621 to schedule a consultation.