As a Miami lawyer who sues hospitals , I believe that the most easily avoidable medical mistake is allowing a patient to develop a bedsore.

Pressure ulcers or bed sores have been a longstanding challenge for health-care providers and a serious potentially life threatening injury for patients. Bedsores are tiny ulcers that occur to skin and the underlying tissue caused by pressure or friction. Bedsores are also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores.

According to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, nearly 1 million people develop pressure ulcers every year while under the care of a hospital or nursing home. Bedsores can escalate a patients decline and interfere with recovery from accidents and surgery. Nearly 60,000 Americans die every year from bed sore related complications. Each year bedsores end up costing patients extended hospitalization, wound care and medication over $1.3 billion.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) do not reimburse hospital for the care and treatment of bedsores that develop under their care. That is because under all but the most extreme situation bedsores are completely preventable by the use of specialized mattresses, seat cushions and other specifically designed products.

Not all hospitals and nursing homes are up to the task. Miami’s Palmetto General Hospital has been found deficient by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration several times so far in 2012. The latest on June 25, 2012 involved complaints that the hospital’s nursing staff did not develop a plan for ensuring a patients sacral pressure ulcer did not get worse as well as preventative measures.

The Agency reviewed the patients records after she was admitted having suffered a stroke and congestive heart failure. When she was admitted to Palmetto General she did not have any pressure ulcers and her skin was intact. The nurses evaluated her using the Braden Scale and placed her at a moderate risk for skin breakdown. The Braden Scale is a universally accepted evaluation designed to predict the risk a specific patient poses for developing a pressure sore.

After 56 days in the intensive care, the patient was discharged with a several bedsores including a Stage 1 pressure sore to the sacral area and a stage two bedsore to both buttocks. The investigation revealed that Palmetto’s records were inconsistent with regard to the measurements of the wounds and that the staff needed additional training on Tissue and Pressure Ulcer Management. Read the report here.

As a Florida lawyer that sues hospitals I urge you to make the most informed decision possible when and if you are able to choose your hospital. AHCA makes the decision easier by publishing citations and corrections on its website for hospitals and nursing homes across the State of Florida. Please avoid seeking care at a hospital that is repeatedly found to be deficient and non-compliant with the quality care standards.