What is amputation?
An amputation is a surgical removal of infected or dead tissue, usually done in order to save a patient’s life. When a person’s skin tissue becomes infected through injury or some other cause, it often requires immediate treatment. If this treatment is delayed, the infection may turn into gangrene: a condition in which the cells beneath the skin die and the tissue becomes necrotic, or dead. Dead skin turns cold and begins to darken, eventually turning black. Gangrene can spread from the infected area to the rest of the body, posing a threat to the patient’s life. Amputation stops this spread by removing the gangrenous area from the body.
How is amputation caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
There are several things that can cause a nursing home resident to require an amputation. However, in many cases, amputations are simply due to nursing home negligence. For example, a nursing home may fail to prevent a resident from developing bed sores by not helping the resident change position regularly. Once the resident develops bed sores, the nursing home may be negligent in providing treatment soon enough. If the infection becomes severe because no treatment is administered, then the resident may end up needing an amputation. Similarly, if a resident develops an infection from the use of catheters or feeding tubes, because a nursing home failed to keep the catheter clean or kept the resident catheterized for too long, the resident may eventually need an amputation.
What should a nursing home do to prevent amputation?
The best thing nursing homes can do to prevent amputation is to pay close attention to resident’s medical needs and administer treatment as soon as signs of an infection appear. But nursing homes should do all they can to prevent residents from developing life-threatening infections in the first place. This includes preventing bed sores by helping bed-ridden residents change position often, keeping residents’ clothes and bedding clean, and limiting the use of devices like catheters and feeding tubes. When catheters are required to treat a resident’s condition, the nursing home should keep the device clean and make sure the resident uses the catheter for as short a time as possible.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for amputation?
If a nursing home neglects to treat a resident’s infection, leading to gangrene and amputation, then the nursing home may be held responsible for the outcome. Most of the time, a nursing home will be held responsible for amputation if the nursing home clearly should have recognized that the resident had an infection, but for some reason or other failed to treat the infection in time. Since amputations can be expensive for the patient, a nursing home that bears the responsibility for a resident’s amputation will be legally required to pay the medical bills for the resident’s surgery. Additionally, as an amputation significantly decreases the quality of a person’s life, the nursing home will probably also be required to pay the resident money for pain and suffering.