Amputation due to nursing home abuse, neglect, or medical negligence is highly disturbing. Most people know that nursing homes serve elderly individuals in need of specialized care; however, what many do not realize is the number of amputations in Florida nursing homes that result from neglect on the part of staff.
Unfortunately, leg amputations and foot amputations are more frequent than most would think in nursing home settings, and severe cases can call for an entire limb to be removed from the body due to a lack of adequate healthcare. It’s essential to understand why such incidents occur if you or someone you love has been affected by this form of maltreatment. If your loved one has suffered an amputation because of living in a nursing home and not receiving the care they needed, it’s important to talk to legal professionals who can help you figure out what happened and whether there was any act of elder abuse or negligence.
Our seasoned Florida nursing home abuse attorneys at Distasio Law Firm help individuals and families who have experienced amputations while in a nursing homes care. Our office is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and of course we always offer a free consultation to discuss your case and answer your questions.
Florida Nursing Home Care Standards Are Not What We Would Hope For
The United States as a whole, not just Florida, has found itself facing a growing epidemic of abuse and neglect in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation centers that help senior citizens. As Americans age, our population of senior citizens grows, following this, there has also been an increase in long-term care facilities to assist our elderly. Many of these facilities, however, have shifted their goals from helping people, to profit and financial gain. These facilities know staff salary is the highest cost to a nursing home. To increase profits, they cut hours and only provide the bare minimum of care levels the state requires. This leads to an issue of neglect, where patients are not given the attention and time they both need and deserve.
When a facility is not staffed properly, our loved ones suffer from not receiving the care they need, all while the nursing home makes more money. This lack of care leads to staff members not having enough time to check on residents. Things like body exams, medication administration, and turning and repositioning of residents do not happen as often as they should. This can lead to increased numbers of amputations of hands, feet, legs, and arms. This is why it is extremely important to investigate and report any suspicions of neglect or abuse to the reporting agencies for investigation, as well as consult with a focused attorney from Distasio Law Firm for help.
How Could Amputations Be a Common Problem in Florida Nursing Homes?
Amputations are becoming more and more common in long-term care facilities. This is largely due to the insufficient level of attention, lack of care, and delayed reaction times many elderly residents experience when they require urgent medical help because of understaffing. Of course, some medical issues may present a need for an amputation even with the highest quality of treatment, but it’s still essential that elderly individuals receive comprehensive care so that these cases can be rare occurrences and not more common.
Common Reasons for Amputation in Nursing Home Patients
Infected Bedsores / Pressure Sores
The elderly population is at high risk for amputations caused by infected bed sores, also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores. These wounds develop when sustained pressure blocks the blood flow to certain areas of the body, such as the heel and shoulders. The pressure happens because these body parts spend extended periods of time sitting or lying still in one position. Left untreated, these skin lesions slowly deteriorate over time and can eventually become deep enough to expose muscle or bone – and infections often occur at this stage. Without prompt medical attention and proper care intervention, these wounds can quickly worsen and may lead to amputation.
Diabetes causes serious long-term damage to nerves and blood vessels due to high sugar levels in the blood. Poor circulation, because of damaged blood vessels, can lead to tissue degradation or even amputations due to nerve damage. Without functioning nerves, a person may not feel pain from uncomfortable injuries like cracks on their feet that can open them up to infection. When bacteria invade these open wounds due to unstable glucose levels in the bloodstream, tissue begins dying from lack of proper circulation caused by diabetic vascular damage. As the cells die, they cause skin discoloration—typically purple or black—and gangrene if not treated quickly with antibiotics and removal of necrotic tissue.
Fractures and Other Traumas
Broken bones and traumas can lead to circulation problems that worsen skin damage and cause the need for amputation. Moreover, the exposed sections of broken bones may become infected with bacteria, resulting in osteomyelitis. This infection can contribute to indubitable swelling, which puts pressure on veins and muscles creating compartment syndrome – a chronic, often agonizing pain that leads many elderly people to take the drastic measure of amputating a limb.
Poor Circulation or Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease, which can be caused by atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and other conditions, is a dangerous condition that narrows the arterial walls due to plaque buildup. This restriction of blood flow can cause several different symptoms. The most noticeable symptom is intermittent claudication—a feeling of pain in an extremity during exertion that fades with rest. In elderly individuals, this may lead to amputation because the extremities do not get enough blood to keep the limb alive. In addition, extended bed rest or bedsores may occur because movement causes pain and further reduction of circulation. To prevent problems associated with peripheral vascular disease, it’s important to understand the symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible.
My Family Member Had a Limb Amputated in a Florida Nursing Home, Now What Do We Do?
There are many amputations performed that are not a result of a lack of care, abuse, or neglect of the patient, and are medically needed for the safety of the nursing home resident. But there are, however, many amputations that occur as a direct result of neglect, or a lack of proper health care due to understaffing or insufficient care from the staff. When this is true, the amputation could have been avoided with proper care and your loved would have not had to endure the pain and suffering they lived through.
If you believe that negligence on the part of a long-term care facility played any role in yours or your loved one’s amputation the facility can, and should, be held accountable and liable for the mistreatment. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you through the process with compassion.
Amputations in Florida nursing homes are a serious and growing issue that results in both physical and psychological consequences for the victim. It’s important to act immediately if you suspect nursing home neglect was a contributing factor. Don’t let your loved one suffer in silence – speak up and demand justice. Call us today. *Updated Statute of Limitations as part of HB837 as of Friday, March 24th, 2023 the Florida Statute of Limitations for “An action founded on negligence” has been reduced to 2 years instead of 4 years.