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When an individual is under the care of a hospital or nursing home and ends up with a bedsore, also known as a pressure sore, that usually means something is amiss. If the individual is not conscious, or immobile, or otherwise unable to appreciate the gravity of their confined-to-a-bed situation, a hospital or nursing home could very well be liable for bedsores.
Bedsores can vary in severity, but are generally caused by the prolonged application of the pressure of the weight of the body on the skin and tissue. Bedsores do not occur if a person is carefully monitored, regularly repositioned, and provided with the proper care or resources, even when they are at risk.
Can You Sue for a Bedsore?
If you get a bedsore while in the hospital, or nursing home, because you were unable to reposition yourself, you may have a legal claim. Particularly given that advances in technology now provide for beds that can be programmed to reposition a person's body during the course of a day to relieve pressure, hospitals may have a difficult time explaining how allowing a bedsore to occur is not negligent medical care. However, medical malpractice claims are very nuanced, and what may rise to malpractice varies from state to state. Additionally, the deadline to file a malpractice claim varies from state to state, and can even be less than a year in some places.
A minor bedsore (stage I) that is only a mild irritant and heals without much difficulty is likely not to rise to the level of malpractice or negligent care if it is caught and remedied. However, a more severe pressure sore is likely to be considered such, particularly if a patient is immobile. However, there are many other signs that can also be used to base a claim for negligent care on.
Refusing Care or Treatment Leading to Bedsore
If a person refuses care, and as a result of that refusal, suffers a bedsore, then that may defeat a legal claim based on a bedsore. This is a good reason why patients should cooperate with recommendations for physical therapy and medical examinations. But there's also the issue of competency and whether the patient's refusal should have been honored.
If you or a loved one developed a bedsore in a nursing home or hospital, contact a personal injury lawyer to find out if you have a legal claim.