There are three major risk factors for a nursing home resident developing bed sores: immobility, incontinence, and poor nutritional status. Skin is one of the body’s organs, and like any other organ, it doesn’t function as well when the resident is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration.
Protein is the building block for intact skin, and your albumin level is one of the markers of what your protein levels are. It is usually obtained when a doctor orders a Comprehensive Metabolic Profile, one the common blood tests that get ordered. A “normal” level for an albumin test is 3.4 to 5.4. Scores beneath that cut-off indicate insufficient stores of protein, and an increased of developing bed sores (or pressure ulcers).
When a resident has a below-normal level of albumin, this is information which should be taken into account by the nutritionist and dietician in developing a nutritional plan of care as part of an effort to prevent the resident from developing bed sores or to help a resident recover from bed sores if they develop one. There are a number of ways that a low albumin level can be addressed, including providing the resident with assistance with eating, medication like an appetite stimulant, nutritional supplements which provide additional doses of protein, or simply providing extra portions of protein with their regular meals.
What is unacceptable is failing to try to address a low level of albumin. It is well-recognized in the nursing home industry that poor nutritional status is one of the things that sets the stage for residents getting bed sores, which puts them at risk for developing additional problems such as infections like osteomyelitis. Because this is so well-recognized, it is incumbent on the nursing home to take steps to address this once a resident’s lab work tells them that the resident has low albumin levels.
If you have had a parent or other loved one suffer injury or a wrongful death as a result of developing bed sores or pressure ulcers or as a result of malnutrition or dehydration, contact our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers to learn more about what your rights are. The initial consultation is free, and there is no obligation to hire our firm if you do contact us.