Is Improper Wound Care Considered Medical Malpractice?


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While most day-to-day wounds are superficial and heal quickly, some wounds cannot heal without specialized treatment. The consequences can be severe when these wounds are not identified early and treated following standard medical guidelines. Infection, amputation, and death are all possible when wounds aren’t cared for properly.

When Do Wounds Need Specialized Care?

Most wounds, even minor ones, benefit from some sort of treatment. A bandage to keep it clean, an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection, or maybe a couple of stitches is usually enough for minor injuries. But when wounds are more severe, specialized care is often required. Surgical wounds, burns, ulcers, and traumatic injuries are some of the most common reasons people seek specialized wound treatment. When a wound refuses to heal on its own, it’s often referred to as a chronic or non-healing wound.

Wounds that require medical intervention can happen to anyone, but the people most at risk of experiencing a chronic or non-healing wound include those with:

  • diabetes
  • circulation disorders
  • limited mobility
  • recent surgeries
  • dialysis
  • poor nutrition
  • smoking
  • excessive alcohol use
  • advanced age

People with these conditions are more prone to developing wounds, have a slower overall healing rate, and may have reduced sensation in their extremities, making it more difficult for them to feel pain.

If a wound doesn’t seem to be healing on its own, it’s important to seek treatment if there is increasing pain, foul odor, a change in color in or around the wound, the area seems to get larger rather than smaller, or if the wound has not healed on its own after 3 - 4 weeks.

What Can Happen When Wounds Are Cared For Improperly?

When wounds are not treated appropriately, there can be serious long-term effects. Infection, amputation, and death can all occur if a wound is not identified quickly and treated correctly. Some of the most common causes of improper wound care include:

  • Poor documentation: without detailed records, healthcare workers may not realize that a wound is getting worse rather than improving over time.
  • Failure to refer to a wound clinic: when a wound isn't healing with standard outpatient therapies, general practitioners need to refer their patient to a provider specializing in chronic, non-healing wounds.
  • Failure to notice a wound: facilities like nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to this, as many patients are bedridden, and there are typically more healthcare aids than licensed medical professionals trained to assess and treat wounds.
  • Lack of patient education or follow-up: when a patient presents with a non-healing wound, medical professionals must instruct them on what to watch for and how to care for the wound between visits. In addition, follow-up visits are essential to ensure that healing occurs, particularly in patients more prone to developing complications.
  • Lack of sterilization: when healthcare providers fail to properly sterilize tools, wash hands, or wear gloves before treating a wound, infection is likely.

When Does Improper Wound Care Become Medical Malpractice?

It can often be challenging to determine if a wound isn't healing because it's being treated improperly or if delayed healing is simply due to the patient's underlying condition. For example, a diabetic ulcer will likely take a while to heal, even with the best medical care. However, suppose it can be proven that standard medical guidelines for wound treatment weren't followed correctly (or were completely ignored). In that case, a case can be made for medical malpractice by the healthcare provider or medical facility. Suppose you or a family member has suffered from a chronic or non-healing wound that has resulted in significant pain and suffering, infection, amputation, or wrongful death. In that case, it's crucial to seek a second medical opinion to ensure that proper protocols were followed in your case.

If a doctor or other healthcare professional’s negligence has resulted in catastrophic injury or death, they should be made to pay for the pain and suffering they’ve caused. If you have any doubts about the treatment that you or your family member received when dealing with a chronic or non-healing wound, then contact an attorney to see if your situation could have been a result of medical malpractice.

Why Choose Ross Feller Casey?

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to improper wound care, then contact Ross Feller Casey. Our team of doctors and lawyers has a track record of success in all medical malpractice cases, including those related to improper wound care. Our team will carefully examine your case to determine if the correct treatment was provided for your specific wound or if your healthcare professionals were negligent in their care.

Our record of over $3 billion recovered for our clients, including hundreds of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements, proves that we have what it takes to get the justice you and your family deserve. There's no fee unless you win, and consultations are always free, so contact us today.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.