In a horrific example of nursing home neglect, a Texas woman may lose her foot after suffering from an untreated bedsore and infection for more than six months. Despite her family’s frequent visits no one observed the neglect until it was nearly too late.
Nursing Home Neglect Leads to Devastating Infection
The victim, 63-year-old Alberta Robinson, was a resident at Cypress Wood Care Center when she developed what her family believed to be a pressure sore. She was the last patient you would expect to be the victim of severe nursing home neglect. Her family visited her at least five times a week, and considered themselves to be very involved in her care.
Mrs. Robinson is disabled and bedridden, which puts her at risk of developing bedsores (pressure ulcers), but her family had no idea one was continuing to fester. She spends most of her time wrapped in blankets, and her family had no reason to inspect her feet on their own. In April 2019, nursing home staff informed the family that Mrs. Robinson needed to see a wound specialist, but said nothing else. Trusting the staff and the specialist to care for their loved one, they didn’t follow up.
The family says the caregivers did not seem worried at all and never brought up the bedsore again.
Weeks later, the smell of infection caught their attention during a Mother’s Day visit, and the family was horrified to discover an angry, festering wound on Mrs. Robinson’s foot. This devoted family trusted the nursing home staff to keep them informed about her care, including the presence of any injuries.
Tragically, that trust was wrongly placed. Mrs. Robinson’s bedsore required surgical repair, and she still may lose her foot entirely. The infection destroyed all the layers of her skin and doctors are concerned that it may have invaded the bone. Naturally, her family is angry about the situation, and concerned for the wellbeing of their loved one.
Bedsores and Infection Should Never Escalate
The nursing home responsible for Mrs. Robinson’s suffering is refusing to release a statement to the press, and that may be because bedsores of this severity are considered “never events.” That is, the level of neglect a patient would have to experience in order for bedsore to develop to this point is so egregious that medical professionals across the country agree that it should never happen at all.
For being classified as “never events,” bedsores happen with unacceptable frequency. More than two million nursing home residents this year will suffer bedsores. Of those, 60,000 will die from complications relating to their wounds.
Because bedsores form where a bony part of the body meets a surface – a bed or wheelchair – it is not easy for family members to see the wounds on their loved one, even if they visit every day. Like Mrs. Robinson’s family, so many people rely on the integrity of nursing home caregivers to keep them informed about their loved one’s health.
Sadly, nursing home staff know that severe bedsores result only from neglect, and yet they allow it to happen. It is likely their self-interest that keeps staff members from reporting injuries caused by their own neglect until the harm simply cannot be concealed any longer.
Prevention and Timely Treatment of Bedsores is Key
Before they open into wounds, bedsores are easily prevented and treated. Nursing home staff members should take care to preserve healthy blood flow in patients who are at risk of developing bedsores. The standard of care for bedsore prevention is turning or repositioning the patient every two hours. It is such a simple task that can prevent horrible wounds.
When nursing home neglect allows a wound to go untreated, the results are disastrous. Untreated bedsores continue to progress through 4 stages of development:
- 1: Prolonged pressure interrupts the blood flow to the skin forming an irritated, red rash, or a boggy texture.
- 2: The outer layers of the skin begin to die, and the bedsore begins to look like a shallow crater.
- 3: The outer layers of the skin have died and begun to break apart, leaving a bloody wound that is susceptible to infection.
- 4: The full thickness of the skin dies and decays, revealing the underlying structures like muscle, fat, and bone.
Bedsores are considered 100 percent preventable. Therefore, it is unacceptable that a wound would ever progress to the point of stage 3 or stage 4 wounds. Late-stage bedsores are susceptible to infection, gangrene, and can lead to sepsis.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home
When it’s time to consider a nursing home for someone you love, keep in mind the tragic realities of nursing home abuse, and choose the best facility you can. Conscientious care staff can make all the difference and keep your loved one safe.
The Center for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes a 5-star ranking of nursing homes all over the country which can help guide you to a reputable facility. CMS ranks both for-profit and not-for-profit facilities to help consumers choose the facility that is best for their loved ones regardless of income.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when choosing a nursing home:
- Choose a facility close enough to your home or workplace for you to visit frequently.
- Look for a well-staffed nursing home. Ask about the nurse-to-patient ratio as well as the CNA-to-patient ratio.
- Choose a facility where the staff seems willing to answer your questions. Meeting with gruff responses and a bad attitude might discourage you from asking the questions you need to in order to keep your loved one safe.
- Pay very close attention to the cleanliness of the facility while you visit. It will reflect the care your loved one can expect to receive.
- Pay attention to the residents you come across when visiting. Are they happy, engaged, and entertained?
Rankings and statistics are not always the most reliable indicator of a safe facility. Cypress Woods Care Center had no complaints reported to Texas Health and Human Services in 2019. Choose the nursing home where you feel you can be involved the most effectively in your loved one’s care.
Ways to Report Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing Home Abuse Center is available for cases of nursing home abuse neglect all across the United States. Every state has agencies where you can report suspected nursing home abuse. Most commonly, these include:
- Contact a long term care ombudsman. They keep records of the all the facilities that have ever faced an investigation for neglect.
- Reach out to the Adult Protective Services (APS) in your area.
- Contact local law enforcement for any suspected physical, sexual, or financial abuse.
If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect, Contact Nursing Home Abuse Center
Patients who suffer from nursing home neglect are victims, and they have rights. If your loved one has suffered bedsores or any other sign of neglect in a nursing home, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center to talk to one of our experienced attorneys.
Schedule a free consultation to determine how best you can protect your loved one’s legal rights. You can call us toll free at 1-800-516-4783 or contact us online.