Pressure Ulcer Medical Malpractice Law Firm in Washington DC and Maryland

Our firm represents individuals who have suffered bed sore or pressure ulcer injuries due to medical negligence. Generally, these are preventable and avoidable injuries that occur due to the neglect of doctors, nurses and hospital or nursing home administrators. A bed sore or pressure ulcer can affect the skin and then tunnel down to the bone where it can lead to osteomyelitis (bone infection). If left untreated, this could cause serious health problems.

Pressure ulcers can cause serious and chronic pain and suffering. It may significantly curtail your ability to perform everyday tasks. It may even cause you to lose income as your ability to work may be impeded. If there was a critical medical error during your hospital or nursing home stay, our medical experts and lawyers will find it. Our job is to then hold the negligent party responsible for causing a serious medical condition and to obtain fair compensation for your losses.

What is a Pressure Ulcer?

A pressure ulcer is an injury to the skin or underlying tissue. The injury usually occurs over a bony prominence such as the tailbone or elbow. These injuries are a result of sustained pressure on the bony prominence.

There are several contributing factors that cause pressure ulcers. Generally, the lack of mobility is a major contributor. 

Pressure Ulcers are sometimes referred to as bed sores.  This terminology does not completely illustrate the range of factors that can cause an injury. A pressure ulcer can develop whenever soft tissues make contact with a supporting surface. It may be a shear force (parallel to the body) that presses against soft tissues. Thus, a bed is not always required in the development of a pressure ulcer.

What Causes a Pressure Ulcer?

The primary cause of a pressure ulcer is a sustained mechanical load upon soft tissues. These tissues are usually very close to a bony prominence.

When an immobile patient is left in a bed for extended periods of time and nurses, doctors and other medical personnel fail to turn or move the body, a pressure ulcer is bound to occur. Similarly, when a patient is situated in a bed that is too small for his or her size, then it is more likely than not that medical staff will neglect to properly turn or move the patient on a regular basis. Thus, a pressure ulcer is likely to develop.

Failure To Communicate

Poor communication among the various departments that make up a hospital or nursing home are to blame for many pressure ulcers. When a nurse’s notes are not carefully read after a shift change or when a doctor fails to closely review notes or ask questions, then a patient suffers while remaining motionless and with a worsening injury. Hospitals can reduce these injuries with improved communication among the various disciplines.

Pressure Ulcers Are Categorized In Stages

Stage 1

This signifies that the skin remains intact but there is noticeable redness in a localized area usually over a bony prominence.

Stage 2

Stage 2 refers to a pressure ulcer that shows partial thickness and loss of dermis. It appears as a shallow open ulcer with redness but without slough (dead tissue which has separated from the ulcer).

Stage 3

When a pressure ulcer reaches Stage 3, there is full thickness and skin loss due to the injury. The term “full thickness skin loss” refers to an ulcer that extends through the dermis to involve the subcutaneous tissue (located beneath the skin). With a Stage 3 injury, it may be possible to view subcutaneous fat; however, bones, muscles and tendons are not exposed. Slough may indeed now be present. There may also be undermining (tissue loss found under intact skin along wound’s edge) and tunneling (a path of tissue destruction). Tunneling can lead to abscess formation.

Skin Layers

The epidermis is the outer and visible layer of skin.

The dermis lies just beneath the epidermis. It is made up of fibrous and elastic tissue. It is the thickest layer of skin. 

Subcutaneous tissue is a layer of skin that lies beneath the dermis.

Stage 4

A Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer signifies that there is full thickness tissue loss and exposed bone, tendon or muscle. Slough may be present and there is usually undermining and tunneling.

Unstageable

An unstageable pressure ulcer means that the true depth of the wound cannot be determined because of extensive slough present. There is full thickness tissue loss and the base of the ulcer is covered by slough.

Preventing a Pressure Ulcer

Prevention happens when hospitals and nursing homes establish clear and unambiguous standards in order to protect their patients. Adherence to these clear standards is imperative. A full body skin assessment at admission should be required as well as regular and frequent body turning, repositioning and further inspections. 

Health care professionals should also utilize foam barrier dressings on the bony prominences, such as elbows, tailbones and heels in order to prevent injuries.

What is a Mechanical Load?

A mechanical load is force applied to soft tissue due to contact between skin and a solid surface. This force is also carried by the bony structures and transmitted through the soft tissue to the supporting surface.

What is a Surgical Debridement?

This is the removal of dead or damaged tissue from a pressure ulcer wound site. A debridement is performed by a surgeon in order to heal the wound. If not done at the appropriate time, then the wound worsens and can lead to further problems including bone infection, the formation of an abscess or other types of infection.

A Pressure Ulcer Was Discovered. Now What?

A hospital should immediately arrange for a consultation with a surgeon in order to determine whether to do a surgical debridement.  A debridement will remove necrotic tissue before the wound enlarges or deepens and also lessen the possibility of infection down to the bone.

A surgical consultation will also clearly determine whether the pressure ulcer is causing infections. Failure to promptly involve a surgeon may lead to osteomyelitis and other complications. Thus, calling in a surgeon during the early stages will prevent more serious complications from developing.

Total Dedication

If you suffered a serious pressure ulcer injury due to medical negligence, then you must act quickly and contact a medical malpractice law firm. There is a time limit for filing a lawsuit.

Please contact us for more information about your case so that we may determine the best course of action.

You can count on our total dedication to you. We rely on the best experts to help us evaluate your case. With our firm on your side, you will have an attorney directly available to you.  Contact us at 202-330-6290 or info@serranolegal.com for a free initial consultation.