Bedsores and Pressure Injuries

Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers or pressure sores, occur when skin (and the tissue just under the skin) is subjected to prolonged pressure. Bedsores are—with rare exceptions—preventable. That is, generally, if a healthcare provider at a hospital, assisted living facility, rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility or nursing home follows the rules related to bedsore prevention, bedsores do not occur. Patients most at risk for bedsores are those with a medical condition that restricts their ability to move freely and/or change positions. Most bedsores occur on bony areas of the body, including the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone. When a patient does develop a bedsore, medical negligence is typically the cause, and a medical malpractice law firm with experience handling bedsore cases, like Davis Adams, LLC, should promptly review the medical file.

More about bedsores…

Two primary theories exist regarding the formation of bedsores. The first and most accepted is the deep tissue injury theory, which theorizes that the ulcers begin at the deepest level, around the bone, and move outward until they reach the epidermis. The second, less accepted theory is the top-to-bottom model, which speculates that skin first begins to deteriorate at the surface and then proceeds inward. But whichever theory is actually true is largely irrelevant for caregivers who are charged with preventing the formation of bedsores in their patients. The single most important care for a patient at risk for bedsores is the periodic redistribution of pressure on the body. In the 1940s, British Neurologist Ludwig Guttmann began the practice of repositioning paraplegics every two hours, ensuring that pressure did not remain focused on one part of the body for an extended period of time. The result: patients who previously had a two-year life expectancy (given that they were routinely succumbing to blood and skin infections) were living longer and enjoyed much-improved prognoses. Thus, for more than 75 years the most important medical rule that healthcare workers should obey when treating patients at risk for bedsores has been crystal clear: routinely rotate the position of the patient. And while this seems easy enough, the sad reality is that patients develop bedsores every day in a variety of medical facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) because the rule is all too often ignored.

Common complications arising from bedsores…

In addition to causing horrible wounds, the following complications frequently occur when healthcare workers fail to follow the medical safety rules and patients develop bedsores:

Sepsis: Bedsores commonly become infected, sometimes causing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and rapidly spread throughout the body (sepsis). If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which can be fatal. But even for those who survive, the wounds caused by severely infected bedsores are often large and gruesome and require extended medical care and lengthy recoveries.

Cellulitis: Cellulitis is another type of infection, primarily affecting the skin and underlying soft tissue. Like sepsis, cellulitis can be life threatening without timely and appropriate medical care.

Bone and joint infections: Some bedsores cause infections that burrow into joints and bones, damaging cartilage and tissue, as well as the bone itself (osteomyelitis). Such complications are likely to cause significant injury, with fatality possible if the infection cannot be brought under control.

Cancer: Another, albeit rarer, complication from bedsores is the development of a type of squamous cell carcinoma. This aggressive cancer can develop in chronic, non-healing wounds, and typically requires prompt surgical intervention.

Of all the types of medical malpractice cases Davis Adams reviews each year in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia, negligent care resulting in bedsores consistently causes the most heinous injuries. A quick Google search for “bedsore” images reveals in graphic detail the nature and scope of the wounds that develop when an important—but simple—medical safety rule that has existed for 75 years is not followed. However, proving in a court of law precisely how a healthcare provider’s negligence caused the development of a bedsore is anything but simple. The difference between winning and losing such cases is always in the details: reviewing every page of voluminous medical charts, knowing exactly what to look for in nurses’ notes; understanding patients’ full and complete clinical picture so that defenses can be anticipated and avoided; and substantial experience handling bedsore cases that have resulted in favorable recoveries for patients. Some general personal injury law firms that do not otherwise represent victims of medical negligence will sometimes attempt to handle bedsore cases. Their belief is that these cases can be settled quickly and easily with a letter and a phone call or two. But in medical malpractice litigation, obtaining a quick recovery and a fair recovery are often mutually exclusive goals. There is no substitute for relentless, high-quality legal work, which is why clients are more likely to obtain favorable recoveries when they choose a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney with a track record of significant recoveries for victims of bedsore injuries.

Additional bedsore resources…

The resources below provide additional information about bedsore prevention and treatment:

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) serves as the authoritative voice for improved patient outcomes in pressure ulcer prevention and treatment through public policy, education and research.

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health’s website for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, this website provides information about diseases, conditions and wellness issues in language easily understood.

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit medical practice and medical research group based in Rochester, Minn. It is the first and largest integrated nonprofit medical group practice in the world, employing more than 3,800 physicians and scientists and 50,900 allied health staff.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality‘s (AHRQ) mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

Davis Adams lawyers are medical malpractice experts.

Tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements validate our commitment to doing medical malpractice litigation—and doing it better than any other law firm. We are immersed in medical negligence litigation every day, quickly spotting trends as they develop, pioneering new legal strategies and tactics to combat the ever-changing insurance defense industry, and constantly discussing our clients’ cases with leading medical experts around the country. We are always honing our skills as injury attorneys. Nobody does it better.

Our reputation adds value.

Medical malpractice defense lawyers know us. Insurance claims adjusters know us. In fact, most all of the major players in the insurance defense industry in Georgia know who we are, and what we’re capable of doing in a courtroom. They know about our results, because they have seen us in action. And they know that when we pursue a case, we will never settle for anything less than fair treatment for our client in the form of full financial compensation. Choosing Davis Adams means leveraging our years of experience, and our reputation for excellence, to help maximize your recovery.

Having an experienced medical malpractice attorney matters.

Jess Davis and Chad Adams cut their teeth handling the most complex, high-stakes medical malpractice cases, typically regarded as among the most complicated of all personal injury matters. Racking up successful results for their clients in cases other medical malpractice lawyers were turning down, they quickly became “go-to” attorneys to whom other Georgia lawyers refer tough cases. How does this tangibly help our clients? We have the unique ability to quickly read and digest volumes of medical records, to pick up the telephone and speak confidently to our clients’ treating physicians about their diagnoses and prognoses, and to instantly reach the top medical experts in almost any field at the best hospitals and universities in the world to consult on our clients’ cases. This rare expertise is a game changer for our clients, and sets us apart from other personal injury firms who merely dabble in medical negligence cases.

We can help wherever you’re located.

Davis Adams is headquartered in metro Atlanta, but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent medical malpractice victims in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton, and anywhere between. Indeed, our geographic reach is evidenced by the fact that our firm’s largest settlement came in Fulton County, while our largest verdict ($10,000,000) came in rural Jefferson County. So, wherever you reside in Georgia, selecting the best lawyer is more important than hiring the closest lawyer. As a client, you have just one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us, wherever you happen to be located.

What is my medical malpractice case worth?

Most people who contact our firm do so reluctantly. They aren’t excited about the possibility of having to sue someone, and they understand that money won’t solve all of their problems—and certainly can’t heal their injury. But financial compensation is the only remedy available through the civil justice system; it’s the only form of justice the law allows under these circumstances. But we can only provide our clients with guidance as to the fair value of their cases after the case has been fully investigated. The factors we will consider include:

Economic damages, including:

  • past medical bills;
  • future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans;
  • past lost income; and
  • future lost income.

Non-economic damages, including:

  • physical pain and suffering
  • mental or emotional pain and suffering
  • loss of consortium (companionship)
  • the full value of a life (in wrongful death cases)

Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our clients to avoid the risk and emotional toll associated with trial, and to end their case with certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. A significant percentage of our $75 million in recovered funds for our clients is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend negligent parties know we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.

Fewer cases, more personal attention, better results.

Davis Adams declines to accept the vast majority of cases presented to our firm. The fit has to be just right: the right client with the right type of case, where we feel like our firm can have the maximum positive impact. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down revenue-generating business, we are committed to doing outstanding, hands-on work for a limited number of catastrophically injured clients instead of employing a team of less experienced associate attorneys to churn through a high-volume workload. We simply refuse to become one of those law firms at which the experienced trial lawyers only get involved in the later stages of the case, if at all. From day one, our clients have the collective time, attention, energy, and experience of the seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who will be handling their case at trial, which translates to better representation, and better financial recoveries.

Other lawyers often ask, “Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire some young associate attorneys to handle the unimportant parts of your cases?” That question represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how medical malpractice cases are won or lost, and emphasizes the importance of hiring an experienced medical negligence attorney. There are no unimportant tasks in the cases we handle; victory is always in the details and is never achieved at the maximum level without bringing to bear the full weight of our firm’s substantial experience, dogged determination and blatant refusal to settle for less than our clients deserve.

We do not accept payment unless our client recovers money.

Davis Adams only represents injury victims on a contingency basis, which means that if we do not recover money for our clients, we refuse to accept payment for our services. Additionally, our contingency fee, while reflective of our firm’s quality and success, is nonetheless lower than the fee charged by some firms. We believe, and have proven, that building a financially successful law firm and keeping our fees and expenses to a minimum are not mutually exclusive concepts.

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