Austin Decubitus Ulcer Attorney

Legal Guidance You can Trust When Healthcare Negligence Leads to Decubitus Ulcers

Decubitus ulcers, also called bedsores, are an injury that is unfortunately common among nursing home residents and hospital patients.  These injuries develop when unrelieved pressure is placed on a localized area of the body.  Most commonly decubitus ulcers develop on bony areas like the heels, elbows, buttocks, and back.

The best way to prevent decubitus ulcers from developing is to ensure that patients are repositioned regularly, have adequate nutrition and hydration, and are in a clean, safe environment.  Sadly, not all healthcare facilities or caregivers follow these guidelines.  That is where the Austin decubitus ulcer attorney at Brown & Brothers comes in.  Our goal is to protect our clients from healthcare negligence and ensure that healthcare facilities and caregivers are held responsible for substandard care.

Decubitus ulcers should never progress to the point of life-threatening illness.

Decubitus ulcers are preventable with proper care, and if treated in a timely manner, the risk of complications is quite small.  Unfortunately, many people who develop these injuries are neglected, or are left without treatment to the point that the wound progresses.  If decubitus ulcers are not properly treated, complications can quickly develop.

Factors like malnourishment and poor hygiene can increase the risk of complications.  Serious complications that can result from decubitus ulcers include infection, sepsis, and gangrene.  These complications can result in the need for amputation, or can be fatal.  Wounds that progress to this point is also often a sign of medical malpractice or neglect.

If you have concerns about a decubitus ulcer that you believe was caused by healthcare negligence, contact our Austin decubitus ulcer attorney to learn more about your legal rights, and the options you may have to pursue compensation.

Stages of Progression of Decubitus Ulcers
  • Stage One: Skin is red and warm, and may feel irritated.
  • Stage Two: Skin is discolored and a blister-type wound is visible.
  • Stage Three: Skin is open to a crater-type wound exposing deeper tissue.
  • Stage Four: Wound is open to muscle, tendon, and bone. Infection is likely.

Healthcare negligence is never acceptable, and healthcare facilities and caregivers need to be held accountable.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis, also known as septic shock, is a bacterial infection in the blood stream usually caused by an infection.  It is a life-threatening disease if not treated properly.  Elderly and other immuno-compromised people are at high-risk for sepsis as their immune systems are typically weakened.

Causes of Sepsis

  • Bedsores: Bedsores develop frequently in nursing home and hospital patients/residents.  When a resident is left unattended for long periods of time without movement, they can develop bedsores.  Bedsores can lead to serious wounds and infections, which can then lead to sepsis.
  • Intravenous Lines: Since intravenous lines come in direct contact with the blood stream, victims may end up developing sepsis if they are not properly cared for.  For example, the insertion site in the skin requires regular cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Wounds from Surgery: People who have undergone surgery need medicine, such as antibiotics, in order to heal properly.  If medication is not taken regularly, wounds are slower to heal which could cause sepsis.
  • Undiagnosed Infections: Infections are often undiagnosed, most commonly in an emergency room setting in which an individual goes to the hospital with symptoms of infection, or other SIRS criteria, that are not recognized. This may ultimately lead to sepsis and septic shock.

Side Effects of Sepsis or Septic Shock

According to research performed by Life Science, sepsis has devastating consequences particularly for elderly individuals.  Not only do victims experience medical consequences, but emotional consequences as well.  Some of the side effects of sepsis and septic shock include, but are not limited to:

  • Low Blood Pressure: Older people who suffer from sepsis are usually the highest risk group for low blood pressure.  However, most victims of sepsis suffer from low blood pressure.
  • Cognitive Problems: Memory loss and impairment have been linked to older adults who suffer some sepsis.
  • Amputation: Undiagnosed sepsis, when finally recognized, can require the use of vasopressers in order to maintain the person’s blood pressure sufficiently to keep them alive while antibiotics kill the infection.  Unfortunately, these drugs, while life-saving, can cause gangrene which may ultimately lead to the amputation of limbs.
  • Gangrene: When sepsis goes undiagnosed by a hospital or doctor the infection can begin to cause parts of the body, particularly the fingers, hands, toes and feet, to die and become gangrenous.
    • High fever
    • Chills
    • Rapid breathing
    • Kidney failure
    • Death

Sepsis Treatment Options

It is important to remember that septic shock should be considered a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.  Typically, physicians will give victims antibiotics to start out.  The type of antibiotic will depend on the severity of the infection, but “broad-spectrum” antibiotics are almost always given at first. These antibiotics combat all forms of bacteria.  The antibiotics are administered intravenously so that the medication hits the bloodstream quickly.

Common Frequently Asked Questions

How common are bedsores?

According to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, bedsores affect as many as 2.5 million patients every year.  Of those, around 60,000 patients die every year as a direct result of bedsores or related complications.

How common are medical errors?

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that there were between 44,000 and 98,000 medical error related deaths each year in the U.S.  The new BMJ report indicates that these numbers were outdated and limited, with 2013 deaths topping more than 251,000 patients.  That accounts for 9.7 percent of all death across the nation.  The BMJ report also emphasized the startling number of deaths related to medical errors among Medicare recipients, including the following:

  • In 2004, the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Patient Safety Indicators estimated 575,000 deaths related to medical errors among Medicare recipients.
  • In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General estimated 180,000 deaths related to medical errors among Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Using 2013 hospital admission records, it could be estimated that 400,000 deaths occur each year among Medicare beneficiaries due to medical errors.

What should I do if I believe that a family member or I have been a victim of medical malpractice?

You should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately as there are certain time limitations that may bar you from pursuing a claim if you wait too long.

What should I do if I believe that I have been the victim of medical negligence?

Contact Brown & Brothers today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our trained staff.