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 more rare, 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, LLC, only represents medical malpractice victims.
$40 million in verdicts and settlements validates our commitment to doing one thing—medical malpractice litigation—and doing it well. We don’t claim to be a jack of all legal trades. In fact, to our knowledge, Davis Adams is the only law firm in Georgia that only represents victims of medical negligence. It’s all we do. And while that fact alone does not necessarily make us better than every other lawyer handling medical malpractice cases, it does mean that our focus is laser sharp on this area of the law. We are immersed in medical 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. So instead of dividing our time and energy between auto accidents, business disputes and the occasional medical case, we are constantly honing our skills as medical malpractice attorneys.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Davis Adams can help, whether you are located in the Atlanta area or any other part of Georgia.
Davis Adams has two offices: one overlooking downtown Atlanta from the 33rd floor of Centennial Tower, and the other a few miles east in Decatur, Ga.—but our reach is statewide. We routinely represent clients in Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Albany and other cities from Valdosta to Dalton. Wherever you reside in Georgia, when selecting a medical malpractice attorney, we believe that choosing an expert in medical negligence cases is more important that simply hiring the closest attorney. As a client, you have one opportunity to obtain justice, and we are always honored when that chance it entrusted to us.
What is my medical malpractice case worth?
The vast majority of prospective clients we meet contact us reluctantly. Contrary to the media’s unflattering portrayal of some who file lawsuits, most of our clients are not eager to sue hospitals or doctors, and they understand that money is almost always a poor substitute for one’s health lost as result of a medical error. But the only remedy available through the civil justice system is financial compensation; it’s the only form of “justice” the law allows under these circumstances. After the discovery process has been completed and we have dissected our findings, as we prepare a case for mediation or trial we provide our client with guidance as to the fair value of his or her case. The monetary value of a case depends on the level of injury our client suffers. Injuries take many forms, including:
- Economic damages, including:
- Past medical bills
- Future/projected medical expenses, including life-care plans
- Past lost income
- 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 cases involving death as a result of a medical error)
When Davis Adams agrees to represent a medical malpractice victim, we have one simple demand of the defendants: that our client is paid fairly for what he or she has endured. We cannot, and will not, accept anything less than the full measure of justice to which our client is entitled. Often cases are settled at mediation, which allows our client to avoid the risk of trial and to end their case with some measure of certainty. Other times, mediation is unsuccessful, and we proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine our client’s compensation. More than half of our $40 million in recovered funds is the result of trial verdicts, meaning that the attorneys hired to defend doctors and hospitals know that we are fully prepared to meet them in a courtroom if the case cannot otherwise be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.
Our philosophy: fewer cases, more personal attention, better results.
Jess Davis and Chad Adams decline to handle the vast majority of cases presented to their firm. And while it may seem counterintuitive to turn down business, Davis Adams is 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. From time to time other lawyers will 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 medical negligence 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 represents medical malpractice victims on a contingency basis, which means that if we do not recover money for our clients, we will not accept payment for our services. Additionally, our contingency fee, while reflective of our firm’s quality and success, is less than the 50% fee charged by some firms. We simply are not comfortable with earning a fee in a case that is equal to the recovery of our injured client, and therefore have refused to increase our fee.