Know your rights in healthcare facilities


In September 2013, the Daily Mirror published an article about 700 victims of bedsores.

One man died from a stage four bedsore. He was 70, had diabetes and had been left in a wheelchair for 10 hours. The diabetes put him at higher risk than most for bedsores, but it seems that didn’t matter much.

In the UK the NHS – National Health Service – provides healthcare for all of their citizens. It’s based on need, and not their income. So they took quite a hit from these lawsuits. Steven Brown, an attorney quoted in the article, said that the NHS could have saved a lot of money with simple preventative measures.

Unfortunately these things happen. We can be put into the best healthcare facilities money can buy, and we can still be neglected.

Bedsores are a sign of neglect, and a growing problem among treatment facilities – not just in the UK, but in America too.

In fact, the lack of adequate health care can make matters worse. But that’s not an excuse for something that can easily be prevented.

Know Your Rights

You have the right to preventative treatment – no matter what type of facility you are in. You could be in a non-profit nursing home funded by the government. You still have the right to preventative care. You need to be moved at least every two hours, whether it’s just switching positions or helping you to go for a walk. You have the right to have someone check on you at regular intervals, to make sure you’re clean and dry. Your clothes should also be clean and dry.

You have the right to inform more than one person of your aches and pains. If you think you’re getting a bedsore, or something hurts, tell someone. If they brush it off, tell someone else. Demand that a professional come see you. If you have loved ones who come to visit you, tell them what’s going on. They can speak up for you.

You have the right to seek bedsore treatment immediately. You can seek outside treatment. Treatment can vary slightly depending on the state and facility. Search for specialist who treat bedsores in your area.

In some states, these specialists may be hard to reach. For example, some of the best treatment facilities in Illinois are limited to an area consisting of Chicago and a few of its suburbs. However, you may be able to qualify for transport to these facilities and/or specialists under special circumstances.

You have the right to take pictures and document your own evidence. You can ignore anyone who says you can’t. If you don’t have access to a camera (or can’t work the one on your phone), you can have a loved one do it for you. Have them take pictures of your bedsores in all stages, even if they’re only at stage one.

You (or they, or both) should also make notes about the responses from the medical staff. Of special importance is whether anyone in the facility denies responsibility, and anyone who tries to make it seem like it’s not a big deal. It is a big deal. They can cause or contribute to a medically critical state. So document everything you can, while you can.

Medical Malpractice

Since bedsores are an obvious sign of neglect, and can easily be prevented with the proper care, your next step will probably be to consult with a lawyer. Make sure you present the evidence you’ve documented. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case.

Medical professionals recognize that bedsores are preventable. That is why they fall under medical malpractice. Find a lawyer who is not only an expert at medical malpractice suits, but also one that is familiar with the laws in your area. Experience speaks volumes, and you want someone who knows where you’re coming from and will treat you and your concerns with dignity and respect.

The most important right you have as a senior is to be cared for like an individual. If you are not, the facility you are in should accept responsibility for their action – or lack of.

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