October 22, 2017

Decubitus Ulcers

Skin wounds usually caused by nursing negligence.

What are  decubitus ulcers?

A “decubitus ulcer” is an  injury to the skin, usually over a bony prominence, that is caused by prolonged and unrelieved pressure.  You may also hear decubitus ulcers  referred to  as “bed sores”, “pressure ulcers”, and “pressure sores.”  The injury can range from mild skin redness (called a stage 1 pressure sore) to severe tissue damage that can extend to the bone (referred to as a stage 4 pressure sore).  Some decubitus ulcers  appear black or brown, indicating they are covered with “eschar” —  a thick, leathery area of necrotic or dead tissue.  The presence of this black or brown eschar obscures the true depth of the wound, but can indicate that the wound is advanced requires diligent medical attention.


What causes decubitus ulcers?

When prolonged, unrelieved pressure is exerted to an area of skin,  the blood supply to the skin and nearby tissue is reduced.  The lack of necessary blood supply and oxygen can cause harm or death to the affected tissues.  Decubitus ulcers typically form on areas of the body where the bone is close to the skin, such as the heels, sacrum, tailbone (coccyx),  ankle, back, elbow, and hips, among others.  Decubitus ulcers can also be caused by unrelieved pressure resulting from improperly used medical devices.  For instance, patients who are left on a bed pan for too long can develop decubitus ulcers  to their buttocks. Decubitus ulcers  have also been known to develop from pressure caused by contact with medical tubing, improperly fitted medical boots, contact with bed rails, etc.

Decubitus ulcers can be prevented with proper nursing care.

Because nursing home and hospital patients are often confined to a bed or wheelchair, they are often at higher risk for developing decubitus ulcers.   Therefore, nursing homes and hospitals are required to provide these patients with special nursing interventions to ensure that they are protected from developing these wounds. It is generally no longer acceptable for hospitals and nursing homes to allow their patients to develop decubitus ulcers, especially those which become advanced.  State and federal nursing home regulations require that that nursing homes must ensure that a patient who enters a nursing home without a decubitus does not develop a decubis ulcer unless they are clinically unavoidable.  Likewise, Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for medical bills associated with advanced decubitus ulcers that develop while the patient is admitted to the  hospital.

Unfortunately however, published studies have found a prevalence of decubitus ulcers  in excess of 25% of patients in hospital and nursing home settings.*

Nursing negligence causes decubitus ulcers.

Our firm has recovered substantial sums on behalf of patients who developed decubitus ulcers.   We believe these recoveries have been obtained for two primary reasons:

(1) decubitus ulcers are painful and life-threatening injuries, and

(2)  in most all cases, decubitus ulcers are preventable if proper care is provided.

Healthcare providers must follow basic safety rules to protect patients from decubitus ulcers.  Early recognition of the signs of skin breakdown  is critical, because decubitus ulcers are much easier to prevent than they are to heal.  Once a decubitus ulcer becomes advance, it  often becomes infected, and can lead to sepsis and even death. Nursing home and hospital nursing personnel must ensure  timely and diligent skin inspections, frequent turning and repositioning, the use of proper pressure relieving devices for the bed and wheelchair, proper attention to the patient’s hydration and nutrition, and other nursing measures depending upon the individual patient’s needs.  When these patient safety rules are ignored,  patients are put at significant, and unnecessary risk of developing decubitus ulcers.

Why you should not delay in consulting an attorney.

The development of decubitus ulcers are typically the result of nursing malpractice.  Indiana law imposes strict deadlines (also called “statutes of limitations”) in medical malpractice cases that will forever bar the claim if it is not filed in a timely manner.  The law relating to the deadline can be exceedingly complex; therefore, one should not delay in consulting a qualified medical malpractice attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations and review the case.

How to obtain a free case evaluation today.

If you or a loved one developed a decubitus ulcer in a nursing home or hospital, The Powless Law Firm, P.C. would like to help.  You can request a free case consultation today by calling us at 877-769-5377 or by submitting the free case consultation request form on this page.

Here is important information you should know about us:

  • • We concentrate upon medical malpractice and nursing home neglect claims only, and have years of experience and success in doing so.
  • • We offer free consultations, without any obligation.
  • • We never require any retainer fee.
  • • We accept cases on a contingency basis, meaning we only get paid if we obtain a recovery for you.
  • • We accept cases anywhere in Indiana.
  • • We work with a variety of highly qualified medical experts to thoroughly evaluate and present our cases.
  • • We are committed to providing the attention and resources required in these complex cases to help make a difference for those harmed by medical malpractice, and to help force changes that will help protect others.
  • • We never represent the negligent hospitals, nursing homes, healthcare providers or their insurers.

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*See these two studies:

  • Cuddigan J, Ayello EA, Sussman C, eds.  Pressure ulcers in America: Prevalence, incidence, and implications for the future.  2001.  Reston, VA:  National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.
  • Horn SD, Bender SA, Fergusson MI, et al.  The National Pressure Ulcer Long-Term Care Study: Pressure ulcer development in long-term care residents.  J Am Geriatr Soc 2004; 52(3): 359-367.


For more information and resources about pressure sores.: www.pressure-sores.com

National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel:  www.npuap.org/

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