Bedsores and Pressure Sores
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Bedsores (also known as pressure sores and decubitus ulcers) are common ailments for nursing home residents. However common, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious or preventable. When bedsores occur, it might be a sign of nursing home neglect. Bedsores can develop while the resident is lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair or being otherwise immobile. Bed sores can be exacerbated by friction or excess moisture on the skin. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect then contact The Carlson Law Firm to speak with a leading Bedsore Lawyer.
Your loved one deserves the best representation for injuries caused by neglect in a nursing home. Our firm has some of the leading nursing home neglect and abuse attorney in the industry.
Pressure sores and bedsores occur when blood flow is interrupted by pressure to the skin. While these are different terms, they both describe the same problem—the formation of a wound as a result of a particular part of the body being put under prolonged pressure.
Once formed, bedsores are very painful, can take months to heal—if they heal at all. Bedsores can complicate existing health problems. It is not unusual for nursing home residents to die as a result of infections that develop from bedsores.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR BED SORES/PRESSURE SORES?
Certain conditions may leave a person at greater risk for bedsores. The following are common risk factors that the nursing home MUST take into account when assessing and caring for a resident:
- Immobility. Often the result of fractures sustained during falls. However, any condition that impacts a person’s ability to move puts them at risk for pressure sores.
- Poor nutrition and hydration. The skin needs nutrition to remain healthy. Additionally, it needs proper nourishment to heal itself. If nutrition is inadequate, there is a greater risk for pressure sores because the skin is less resilient.
- Peripheral vascular disease. Poor blood circulation can occur from a number of conditions. These conditions include diabetes, heart conditions, and kidney diseases.
- Rubbing and/or Friction. If the skin constantly rubs against something else, you may be prone to pressure sores. For nursing home patients, this can happen when being moved in and out of a wheelchair or in just sheets on a bed.
How Do Bed Sores Start?
Bed sores develop on the bony prominence of the body when there is continuous pressure on that area. For example, areas most at risk for pressure sores include the coccyx, hips, and heels. Still, people who are confined to a bed are at risk for bedsores as well. Unrelieved pressure on the back or sides of the head, shoulder blades, hip, lower back or tailbone, heels, ankles and skin behind the knees are at risk for bedsores and pressure sores as well. For example, immobile nursing home residents will likely develop bed sores if those charged with their care do not take consistent measures to reposition the resident and relieve pressure.
Other factors include:
Shearing occurs when the patient is in a bed that can be raised or lowered. In these cases, when a patient is in one position for a long period of time and quickly changes position, damage to the skin—and even the tissue—can occur.
Constant rubbing against the skin can cause bedsores to develop. This is especially true if the skin is tender or wet. It is imperative that nursing home employees keep the fabric rubbing against the skin to a minimum. Additionally, they should ensure clothing and linens are dry and clean.
Whenever a nursing home fails to prevent bedsores, it may be negligence. If you suspect nursing home neglect, contact a Carlson Law Firm Bedsore Attorney to discuss your case.
Necessary Bedsore Prevention Measure
As mentioned above, cleanliness is also a key factor in preventing and healing pressure sores as well. When a resident is forced to lie in her own waste for hours, the acidity of the urine tends to break down the skin. This breakdown can lead to the development of a bed sore or worsen an existing pressure sore. There is added the danger of infection if a nursing home resident with one or more bed sores is forced to lie in their own urine or feces for hours on end. Sadly, this is a common event in nursing homes. Once a bedsore becomes infected, the resident is in grave danger of developing a systemic infection throughout her body known as sepsis. Sepsis is very difficult to treat and often results in death.
Another key factor in the prevention and healing of pressures sores is hydration and nutrition. When a nursing home is understaffed or the staff is poorly trained, some of the most basic necessities of life are overlooked. For example, many immobile residents rely entirely upon the nursing home staff for the most basic of care, including giving them a drink of water or assisting with meals. When there is a failure to fulfill those basic measures, residents are at risk of dehydration and malnourishment. Dehydration and malnourishment weaken the body. Dehydration makes skin less supple and more brittle, making it more prone to the development of bedsores. A person who is malnourished has less fat and muscle, making it easier for bed sores to develop. Additionally, sores can worsen at a faster rate when a person is malnourished.
What are the Symptoms of Bed Sores?
The degree of skin and tissue damages range from red, unbroke skin to a deep injury involving muscle and bone. Additional warning signs include:
- Unusual changes in skin color or texture
- Pus-like draining
- An area of skin that feel cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas
- Tender or sore areas
How Are Bed Sores/Pressure Sores Diagnosed?
Pressure sores are classified according to stages and each stage of a bed sore represents a greater degree of tissue and skin damage than the stage before it. Pressure sores can develop quickly and can become a serious problem very quickly. When blood flow circulation is compromised, affected tissue can die. This can cause an ulcerated sore to form.
There are four stages of pressure ulcers which indicate the severity of the ulcer:
- Presents as an area of persistent defined redness of the intact skin, usually over a bony prominence.
- Presents as an abrasion or ruptured fluid-filled blister involving partial skin loss.
- The wound is open where subcutaneous fat is visible; however bone, muscle and tendon are not visible.
- Wound is deep with full thickness tissue loss. Muscle, tendon, and bone are visible.
If your loved one is suffering from a later stage bedsore, you have a right to seek justice. Compensation is not the ultimate goal in nursing home cases—holding nursing homes to high standards is The Carlson Law Firm’s goal. It is important to hold at-fault parties accountable for their negligence of elderly and other nursing home patients. When you contact a Bedsore Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm, we will fight to make nursing home experiences better for your loved one and future patients.
What Complications Arise From Pressure Sores?
Elderly people have a tough time fighting infections because of the effects of aging on the immune system. Because of this, pressure sores can lead to life-threatening complications such as cellulitis, bone and joint infections, cancer or sepsis.
Cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues. It can cause warmth, redness and swelling of the affected area. People with nerve damage often do not feel pain in the area effect by cellulitis.
Bone and joint infections. An infection from a pressure sore can burrow into joints and bones. Joint infection (septic arthritis) which can lead to damage in the cartilage and tissue. Bone infection (osteomyelitis) can reduce the function of joints and limbs.
Cancer. Long-lasting wounds that don’t heal can develop into a type of cell carcinoma.
Sepsis. A skin ulcer can lead to sepsis.
What Should Nursing Homes Be Doing To Prevent Bedsores/Pressure Sores?
Without a doubt, pressure sores are easier to prevent than they are to treat. That is why nursing homes have many practices at their disposal to prevent pressures sores. By taking these steps, nursing homes can stop an existing pressure sore from worsening. For example:
- Keep residents well fed, well hydrated and kept clean and dry
- Change the position of residents who are bedridden or in wheelchairs regularly. Moving bed-bound patients at least once every two hours is key to prevention.
- Special mattresses can help alleviate the threat of pressure sores; however, these mattresses do not take the place of re-positioning the patient every two hours.
- The use of special heel protectors and boots which can help alleviate pressure to the affected areas.
We recognize that in cases where patients are bedridden or spend most of the day in a wheelchair, it can prove difficult to prevent bedsores from appearing. However, the staff still has a responsibility to take precautions to keep bedsores from even forming. For example, patients with severe immobility should be in physical therapy programs. This can help keep them moving and keep the blood flowing. Also, it will help stop atrophying from forming in the muscles. If patients are able to walk, nursing homes should allow and encourage them to do so.
Another prevention measure to take include checking a patient’s skin regularly. If any signs of bedsores are noticed, the nursing home staff needs to immediately take measures to correct the issue. By keeping patients and their linens clean and dry, nursing home staff can lessen the chances of bedsores progressing. Foam pads on the bleeding can provide more comfort and cushion to areas prone to developing the sores.
If a nursing home failed to protect your loved one, contact our Bedsore Lawyer today for a free consultation.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
The Carlson Law Firm has a core value to protect the most vulnerable populations. Bedsores are a serious condition that can lead to lifelong pain and even death. In fact, bedsores are the underlying cause for the death of several thousand people in the country every year. Our firm employs attorneys 100 percent dedicated to fighting for the rights of nursing home patients. A Bedsore Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm will invest our time, legal expertise and resources to recover damages.
If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse and is suffering from bedsores, you should take action quickly and contact us. An expert Bedsore Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can help get your loved one the justice they deserve. You can call us anytime at 866-802-9571 to set up a free consultation. We are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.