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Decubitus ulcers may be a sign of nursing home abuse in South Carolina.

South Carolina – March 22, 20222

Residents of long term care facilities and nursing homes are supposed to be protected by federal and state laws overseeing their rights for quality care.  However, nursing home abuse may occur because of staff shortages, lack of supplies, underpaid workers, or poorly trained staff and lack of administrative oversight. It is common for elder nursing home residents to be reluctant to complain, or make waves in their long term residential community, so it is important for loved ones to pay attention to visible signs of nursing home abuse when they are on-site, or pay attention to conversations that may suggest that the proper level of care is lacking.  Families who suspect substandard care should speak with a South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney for guidance.

Decubitus ulcer.

Nursing home residents are at risk of decubitus ulcers when they become unable to freely move about causing longer periods of sitting in one position or laying in one position allowing prolonged pressure against the skin which may be exacerbated by other factors such as poor circulation, moisture from sweat or urine, and poor nutrition contributing to skin breakdown. Decubitus ulcers are commonly referred to as bedsores that occur because an individual may need assistance with repositioning due to mental or physical disability. Areas of concern are usually where the bones and skin are in close contact, such as hips, elbows, ankles, heels, and backs. Decubitus ulcers have been a prevalent problem in nursing homes and may be caused by a lack of attention, or improper medical care in nursing homes.  They are preventable when proper care is given by nursing home staff.  The four stages of bedsore development are:

  • Stage I – Bedsores can develop even if there are no open wounds, but may exhibit signs of redness, warmth, and skin texture changes.
  • Stage II – Skin around sores may open, or form a painful ulcer causing skin damage or necrosis.
  • Stage III – A bedsore gets worse when it moves into the soft tissue under the skin forming a small crater.
  • Stage IV – Can be very severe, deep into the skin into muscle and bone, causing irreversible harm.

Risk factors and treatment.

Employees should undergo training and review risk factors for aging residents who are susceptible to decubitus ulcer due to: the inability to feed, or reposition themselves; decreased mental abilities; being frail, or underweight; having dry rough skin; suffering from malnutrition, or dehydration; serious illnesses; dampness from incontinence, or sweating; friction during re-positioning by staff members; or peripheral vascular diseases.

Duty of care.

Nursing home abuse attorneys in South Carolina can explain how a duty of care may have been ignored when a resident’s health is compromised by decubitus ulcers suffers that lead to other illness, infection, and death.  Residents are protected under The Nursing Home Reform Act under Title IV of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.

Time to file a claim.

The statute of limitations for personal injury, or  wrongful death claims in South Carolina  is three years from the date of the decedent’s death, but in certain medical malpractice cases it could extend as long as six years, with reasonable support that a defendant’s negligence or intentional action played a role in causing a death.

Standard of care.

 When sub-standard care causes decubitus ulcers to a resident, it may be considered negligence and legal action may be taken against a nursing home and/or the treating medical professional because acts of negligence that cause, or exacerbate existing health conditions, or place residents in danger are deviations from the Nursing Home Reform Act rights.  Residents or family members may wonder – “where can I find an attorney near me?” to guide legal action.  Call an experienced attorney at the McDougall Law Offices, to discuss concerns if you believe a loved one is being neglected at a nursing home in South Carolina.

 

McDougall Law Firm, LLC

115 Lady’s Island Commons
Beaufort, SC 29907

Phone: 843.379.7000

 

Sources.

 

  1. https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/Regulations/R.61-17.pdf
  2. https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/house-bill/3545/titles
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553107/
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