Many elderly residents who are hospitalized or living in nursing homes frequently develop pressure ulcers, the development of which risk further complications and even death. Consequently, caretakers for the elderly, particularly those in hospitals and nursing homes, must take precautions to prevent pressure ulcer development within this population. Studies have been conducted demonstrating a correlation between hypotension, or low blood pressure. Specifically, hypotension has been demonstrated to be an important risk factor in the development of pressure ulcers because research has found that hypotension in elderly patients, particularly those in poorer health, contributed to decreased blood flow at pressure points. This, in turn, would contribute to the death of cells and tissue in that area, leading to pressure ulcers.
However, a legal doctrine known as the ‘egg-shell skull’ rule can apply in this context. This rule holds an individual responsible for all consequences arising from their injury-causing actions towards another, even if the resulting injury to the victim is one that is unusually severe due to an underlying or pre-existing condition. Therefore, those caring for the elderly must be especially vigilant in protecting patients against pressure sores, particularly if an elderly patient is at risk for hypotension. This can be done by promptly identifying which elderly patients have hypotension, or those who are susceptible to developing hypotension, and allocating proper attention and resources to such patients. By doing so, caretakers can identify which elderly patients are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcer development due to their clinical condition and can take early preventative measures before pressure ulcers arise and complications occur.
It should be noted that pressure ulcers can arise in elderly patients for a variety of reasons, but they are avoidable with appropriate and attentive care. Studies have shown that the use of physical restraints was also a factor in pressure ulcer development. This is because the application of restraints restricts a patient’s physical movement, thereby increasing the risk of pressure ulcers. An underlying justification for the use of restraints may be due to an elderly patient’s poor initial clinical condition. Restraints may be implemented because if a patient’s condition is poor, it is more likely that medical equipment such as feeding tubes or oxygen concentrators will have to be used to aid the patient during their stay. Thus, nursing homes and hospitals might apply such restraints to ensure the patient does not move the equipment. However, when physical restraints are used for such purposes, caretakers in nursing homes and hospitals must again have a heightened awareness of the elderly patient’s condition and their susceptibility to pressure ulcer development. Therefore, caretakers in nursing homes and hospitals must take proactive steps to prevent the development of pressure ulcers that may otherwise arise due to neglect.
Unfortunately, elderly patients admitted to hospitals and nursing homes are particularly vulnerable and are generally in poor clinical conditions. They are more likely to be susceptible to pressure ulcers, which pose serious risks to this population. Thus, high vigilance and preventative measures must be taken by caretakers in regards to this group. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi believe that your loved one deserves to receive the highest quality care. Should the facility breach its duties to you and your loved one in any way, we insist that they must be held accountable for their actions. We are located in both Northern California and Southern California and serve cities and towns statewide. Contact us today at (888) 606-3453 for a free consultation.