As Canada’s population ages, long-term care facilities and old-age homes will come under increased scrutiny. Today, they provide a vital service but are often under-staffed and under-funded, which leads to medication errors, sub-par care, and issues related to negligence, such as bedsores. Among medical malpractice lawyers, there is concern that a larger senior citizen population will put the long-term care system under increased stress and exacerbate these problems.

Take the issue of bedsores, for example. Also known as ‘pressure ulcers,’ bedsores are common among hospital and long-term care patients who remain immobile for long periods of time. Sustained pressure on the lower back, hips, or shoulders results in loss of blood flow which causes damage to the skin and soft tissue in those areas. To avoid bedsores, patients must be regularly moved; as the long-term care population grows, this will become increasingly challenging without investment and support for staff.

Left untreated, the skin and tissue covering the pressure point may die and infection may set in. Recently, the CBC reported on the case of Bob Wilson of Burlington, Ontario, who was admitted to Joseph Brant Hospital after a fall in November 2018. Wilson’s condition improved until February 2019, when it suddenly deteriorated. In April, he was scheduled to be transferred to Hamilton General Hospital for surgery, but the procedure was cancelled due to a hospital-acquired bedsore infection. The CBC first reported the story in May; Wilson died in June at the age of 77.

Most medical malpractice lawyers know that bedsores are common in Canada, but it’s difficult to say how common. Healthcare experts believe bedsores are underreported, and there is no national database to track them. In Ontario, provincial health ministry statistics show that 1,809 hospital-acquired bedsores were reported in 2018, up from 1,693 in 2013. Some hospitals now voluntarily publish instances of bedsores, including Joseph Brant Hospital following the Bob Wilson case. In Nova Scotia, after a long-term care resident died with a large bedsore, Health Minister Randy Delorey requested to know the scope of the issue in his province – agencies reported more than 150 bedsores after a single day of investigation.

With bedsores expected to become a larger issue in Canada, the provincial health systems must work alongside long-term care providers to ensure patients are receiving an appropriate standard of care. When the standard of care faulters, a personal injury lawyer may be able to provide access to compensation.

If you or a member of your family has experienced sub-standard care in a long-term care facility, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to learn how our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers can help. Our team will provide advice, guidance, and support as you consider and proceed through the legal process.

Greg Neinstein