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Did You or a Loved One Develop Bed Sores in the Hospital? You May Have a Medical Malpractice Claim

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Note: Wayne’s story is a fictional scenario presented to help illustrate how medical malpractice can result in bed sores, and how someone may bring a claim against a hospital or healthcare provider for compensation. 

Introduction

Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus, can be prevented. If a provider fails to fulfill their duty to prevent bed sores, and a patient suffers the consequences, that patient may be able to sue for medical malpractice. 

In this article, we will define medical malpractice, discuss a provider’s role in preventing bed sores, and offer legal options if you or someone you love has been injured due to a provider or facility’s negligence. 

Medical malpractice can be committed by doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in the course of treating a patient. A hospital can also be liable for the actions of these medical practitioners as they are operating as representatives of the hospital. 

Know your rights!

The Four Elements of Medical Malpractice

An injured patient must prove the following four elements in a medical malpractice claim:

  1. The doctor owed the patient a duty of care.
  2. The doctor breached the duty to provide adequate care.
  3. The doctor’s action or inaction caused the patient’s injury.
  4. The patient suffered an injury that resulted in damages.

Stages of a Bed Sore

Bed sores occur when blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than a few hours. They can be extremely painful, and in some cases, life-threatening. 

They have four stages:

  • Stage 1) skin irritation without a wound
  • Stage 2) skin irritation with a shallow wound
  • Stage 3) skin irritation with a wound that may go into the skin’s fatty layer
  • Stage 4) the wound penetrates all three layers of skin, and there may be tissue loss, and muscle/bone/tendon/joint involvement

Bed Sore Prevention

Bed sores are preventable, so healthcare professionals have a duty to their patients to do everything they can to avoid them. 

The following strategies can be used:

  • Take care of the skin, especially if the patient is incontinent (inspect, wash, and dry).
  • Turn and reposition the patient, especially if bedridden or in a wheelchair (use caution to avoid injury).
  • Relieve pressure on the patient’s body by using certain mattresses and wheelchair cushions.
  • Make sure the patient is properly hydrated and nourished.

Who is Responsible?

The practitioners themselves could be liable for the damages caused by medical malpractice. A medical professional (doctor, nurse, etc.) can be sued individually if their act of negligence or malpractice directly causes injury to a patient.

On the other hand, hospitals, nursing homes, or other medical facilities can be sued for medical malpractice. For example, if someone got bed sores because the hospital was understaffed, that is the hospital’s responsibility. 

Another example would be if there is a new employee (or independent contractor) on the floor, and the person who is supposed to be supervising them doesn’t fulfill that duty. Facilities can also be sued for something called corporate negligence. This involves the failure to follow policies, procedures, and protocols resulting in patient harm. 

The Arkansas Civil Justice Reform Act eliminated joint and several liability in cases involving medical injury, personal injury, or wrongful death. This means that multiple parties can’t be responsible for the same damages. Each defendant is only liable for the amount of damages they are directly responsible for, based on their percentage of fault. Individual judgments are then declared against each defendant for that amount. 

The specifics of who gets sued and to what extent depend on the details of the incident, the laws in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred, and the contractual relationships between the practitioner and the hospital. 

A medical malpractice lawyer can assist you or your loved one in determining who to sue and if you have evidence to support your case.

Arkansas Law: Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice 

Arkansas’ law addressing medical negligence is the Arkansas Medical Malpractice Act. Medical negligence becomes medical malpractice when a provider’s behavior causes the patient to suffer an injury. 

If a patient’s bed sore, for example, is caused by the nurse’s failure to move the patient regularly, the patient (or the patient’s guardian/power of attorney) can sue for medical malpractice. 

This goes for Oklahoma too.

Wayne’s Story 

Wayne had a medical condition that required surgery. After the operation, he spent many days in a hospital bed recovering from the operation. His nurse was new at the hospital, and her supervisor was in charge of checking in on her. The supervisor failed to fulfill this duty. 

In time, Wayne developed bed sores that resulted in sepsis— his body had an extreme reaction to an infection. 

Wayne’s nurse had not been taking preventative measures to ensure he didn’t get bed sores, so he got an attorney. Wayne needed a lawyer to determine if he could sue both the hospital for negligent supervision of a new employee and his nurse for medical malpractice. 

Conclusion

If you or a loved one has developed bed sores due to the medical malpractice of a caregiver or facility, we are here to help. 

Here at The Law Offices Of Craig L. Cook, we specialize in medical malpractice. Combined, we have been serving clients in Arkansas and Oklahoma for over 40 years. 

Do you have questions or need help with your claim? Book a free consultation with us to get started! 

You deserve the best medical care, and we can help you recover damages when you receive anything less than the best.