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Bed Sores Are Common Sign of Nursing Home Neglect

A case of elderly neglect in a South Florida home had even the most grizzled law enforcement veterans shuddering.

Our Coral Springs nursing home abuse lawyers know that while this incident didn’t take place in a nursing home, it’s indicative of the kind of injuries that are present in cases of severe elder neglect.

According to The Tampa Tribune, a 66-year-old woman, who was reportedly being cared for in her home by her 68-year-old husband and his two daughters and a son, died a horrific death. She had been bedridden for three years with rheumatoid arthritis. However, her family neglected to properly care for her, resulting in ulcers all over her body and a bedsore on her back that was so severe, it became a gaping open wound that exposed her rib bones to open air.

It was apparent that the family had attempted to bandage some of the sores. However, those dressings weren’t regularly or properly changed. As a result, the wrappings became fused into her wounds.

When she died several months ago, the skin on her legs had grown together. The room where she was kept reeked of urine and feces. Officials also later came to learn that maggots had become active parasites in her body while she was still alive.

She ultimately died of a condition known as septic sequelae. This is a complication of arthritis. Neighbors reported shock at the woman’s condition, as they hadn’t even realized that she was living there. They never saw her. The family never made any mention of her.

Her death was labeled a homicide and her husband and his three children have been charged with aggravated manslaughter of an elderly or disabled person.

It’s difficult to imagine that family members would allow a loved one to endure such suffering. Often, it doesn’t start out with anyone having any ill intentions. It’s merely an issue of family members quickly becoming overwhelmed by the emotionally and physically-intensive tasks associated with caring for someone who needs around-the-clock attention.

Knowing when to reach out for help is important. The Department of Children and Families is one resource.

This case is also an opportunity to highlight the dangers of bed sores. Also referred to as pressure sores, they are a form of injury to the skin and underlying tissue that result from prolonged pressure on the skin. Most of the time, you’re going to find them on bony areas of the body, such as a person’s hips, buttocks, ankles or heels. People who are bedridden or confined to wheelchairs are the most at risk because they cannot move or adjust themselves. They are reliant on others to turn them, to change them and keep them clean.

Bed sores tend to develop very quickly and are notoriously difficult to treat. However, there is no excuse in a nursing home setting, where caregivers are trained and paid to recognize and treat the condition, should it arise. Most of the time, there is no reason why those receiving good care should develop a bed sore in the first place.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Bedridden woman’s death ruled neglect; family held, June 26, 2013, By Ray Reyes, Tampa Tribune

More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Negligence Often Stems from Under-staffing, June 11, 2013, Coral Springs Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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