If you are offended by graphic descriptions or images, please turn off this video or read no further. I apologize in advance to anyone who might find the following information distasteful but there is no other way for me to convey this information without getting into some important and graphic details.
York Law Firm gets calls every day from people whose loved ones may have been neglected or abused in an institution, such as a nursing home, hospital, or elder care facility, or by an institutional caregiver in a home setting. The question they always ask is: do the injuries suffered by my relative rise to the level of neglect?
Elderly people in facilities can easily experience physical problems, but the kinds of cases that constitute neglect are usually clear-cut.
For example, we see Stage 4 Bedsores that extend all the way into a patient’s bone. That means the bedsores have gone through the outer layer of skin, the second layer of skin, the fatty layer below the skin, and have now reached muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. At that point, if someone has Stage 4 Bedsores, they are at a very high risk of death and must receive medical treatment immediately.
Surprisingly, healthcare professionals in hospitals see such patients being admitted to their facilities on a regular basis and don’t question how such things happen. The patients are old so they’re bound to have bedsores, or broken bones, right? In fact, that’s not true.
According to medical studies published in the Wounds UK Journal, 95% of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and Bedsores are preventable.
When we see cases involving Stage 4 Bedsores, it nearly always points to a facility’s failure to provide care and services, usually by leaving an elderly resident being left alone and not moving for an extended period. Such patients are usually also suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, and those are classic signs of elder neglect.
Even though residents of nursing homes will be sent to a hospital with a Stage 4 pressure sore, or hyponatremia caused by dehydration, such cases are often not reported as abuse. The law in California states that doctors and hospitals whosuspect abuse are required to report it, even if it is unproven, but in a surprisingly large number of cases hospitals don’t follow through.
Why is that?
In my opinion, I think the disconnect is that many medical professionalslack appropriate education and awareness. They probably believe that they need absolute proof of neglect or abuse, but that’s not actually what the law states. According to the law, they need only to see signs of neglect or abuse to file a report; they don’t need absolute proof.
If a child came into a hospital with bruises all over their body, or twisted arms or legs, I think every healthcare professional in the United States would immediately file a report with Child Protective Services. For whatever reason, however, such professionals seem to think it’s different for elders.That thinking needs to change.
In the experience of my law firm, probably 99% of the cases of elder neglect were never reported before they came to us, either by the facility where the incidents occurred or by the hospitals where the patients finally ended up. If the hospitals don’t report them, who does? In almost all cases, it is the family members who see unusual physical signs on the bodies of their loved ones who make the call to our offices.
If your elderly mother, father, grandmother or grandfather has Stage 4 bedsores, there is a better than 95% chance that they were neglected. If that has happened, my advice is to get immediate medical treatment for them at a hospital and, if they recover, move them to another facility.
We help families whose loved ones have suffered from elder abuse or neglect. If you have concerns about a loved one in a care facility, please give us a call at York Law Firm (916) 643-2200.