Pressure ulcers may be the best examples of neglect injuries in Illinois nursing homes. Staff members certainly do not intend the serious injuries that bedsores often cause. However, they are still liable for damages.
Bedsores are usually easy to prevent. Generally, patients who turn in bed every two hours never develop pressure ulcers. In some cases, such as critical care patients, patients require more frequent turning.
About Pressure Ulcers
Typically, excess pressure on any bony area of the skin, like the heel or knee, causes bedsores. In early stages, a bedsore may just be a red spot. However, even at this stage, the injury is easy for experienced professionals to spot. Furthermore, if the patient is turned immediately, most early-stage bedsores go away on their own.
Many nursing home residents are unable to turn themselves in bed. Perhaps they are heavily medicated, or perhaps they are physically unable to do so. Therefore, the staff is responsible for checking patients and turning them when necessary.
Unfortunately, many Rockford nursing homes lack trained professionals, especially during nights, holidays, and other low-census periods. Due to staff cuts, many nursing homes hire patient care technicians to do jobs that licensed vocational nurses or other healthcare professionals should perform. If they do rounds, patient care techs are often unable to spot early stage pressure ulcers. So, the bedsore progresses to the next phase.
At Stage 2, bedsores are open sores. The damage extends below the surface to other skin cells. These cells may die or become permanently damaged. Stage 2 bedsores are relatively easy to treat. But because they often resemble abrasions, undertrained employees may not spot them straight away, especially in the dark.
Stage 3 bedsores are basically skin craters filled with fluid. Stage 4 bedsores destroy muscles, joints, and could become life-threatening. Advance stage bedsores always require hospitalization at an emergency care facility, as well as extended physical therapy.
Your Claim for Damages
The nursing home, or company which owns the nursing home, is usually responsible for bedsore damages.
Respondeat superior (let the master answer) is the most common employer liability theory in nursing home neglect cases. It applies if the tortfeasor (negligent actor) was:
- An Employee: Employees are not just people who receive regular paychecks. In many cases, even unpaid volunteers may be “employees” for negligence purposes. That’s because the employer controls these individuals in terms of things like job duties and work hours. This control is all that’s necessary.
- Acting Within the Scope of Employment: Illinois law defines this prong very broadly as well. Anything that benefits the employer in any way constitutes acting within the scope of employment. For example, in car crash cases, workers who drive company vehicles which bear the company logo are acting within the scope of employment. The employer benefits from the free advertising.
Other employer liability theories include negligent hiring and negligent supervision. These theories are particularly applicable if the tortfeasor was undertrained.
Damages in nursing home neglect cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
Connect with Experienced Attorneys
Nursing home neglect injuries, like bedsores, may trigger eligibility for significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.