Bedsores: A Preventable Nursing Home Injury That Often Goes Untreated
There are things that happen in life that no one can foresee. Bedsores – also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers – are not one of those things. They are a well-known scourge among elderly people in nursing homes and are relatively easy to prevent. There is no excuse for how frequently they develop and, worse yet, go untreated at nursing homes.
If your loved one has developed a bedsore while residing in a nursing home, they may be a victim of neglect. At Reddick Law, our attorneys are dedicated to standing up for elderly people who have been mistreated nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other similar facilities. We will review your situation, determine whether neglect occurred and take action to hold the facility accountable for its negligence.
Call 877-930-2080 for a free question and answer session about nursing home bedsore claims.
Why Do Bedsores Happen?
Bedsores happen because a person who is immobile was not attended to. The nursing home staff has a legal obligation to check on residents. The staff should be trained to reposition residents every two hours to prevent bedsores from forming.
When a person lies in the same position for a long time, blood flow to the area of contact is reduced and pressure is decreased or cut off. This causes a mild irritation. As the tissue does not get oxygenated blood, it begins to die. The area becomes red and painful. After more time, the area will turn purple, much like a deep bruise.
The sore can then extend deeper, into both muscle and bone. If not attended to, the bedsore can become infected (especially if it is near the genitals). An infection can be deadly. Bedsores can range from mild to moderate to severe (stage 1 through 4).
Unfortunately, this can mean intense pain for a person with compromised mobility. A person who is left in a wheelchair for more than 15-30 minutes can also develop bedsores. Not repositioning a patient who then develops bedsores is a form of both nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse. If your loved one suffers from bedsores, be sure to take photos of the sores. Do not rely on staff members to do this, even if they tell you they will.
Where Do Bedsores Happen On The Body?
Bedsores can happen wherever there is unrelieved pressure. There are places on the body where they are more common. These areas are:
- Sacral/base of the spine
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the head
- Back of the knees
If a person is bedridden or unconscious, they are more likely to suffer from bedsores. Anyone who is immobile or who cannot feel pain due to nerve damage or medication can develop a bedsore if they are not repositioned. Nursing homes are responsible for staffing, providing proper nutrition and skin care of residents.
How Long Does It Take Bedsores To Develop?
Bedsores can appear in a matter of hours. Factors like the position that a person is in and the amount of pressure on the site, as well as the weight and overall health of the person, can impact the speed with which a bedsore develops. While some may develop over a matter of days, others can appear overnight.
While the appearance of a bedsore does not necessarily mean that a nursing home resident was left unmoved and unmonitored for weeks, it definitely is a sign that the resident may not be getting the care they need. The appearance of a bedsore should be seen as a red flag at best, and if it is debilitating or worsens may be the basis for a nursing home neglect claim.
What Should Nursing Home Staff Be Doing To Prevent Bedsores?
People have a right to be angry when they discover bedsores on a loved one who resides in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other similar facility. One of the key roles of staff at these facilities is to prevent this well-known threat to elderly residents. They should be moving residents regularly so they do not remain in the same position for too long – not letting the resident stay in a chair or wheelchair too long, turning the resident if the resident is in bed all day. If a resident is seen in a position where blood flow is more likely to be cut off, they should be repositioned immediately.
Staff should also be cleaning residents often and, in the process, monitoring for any developing pressure ulcers or any other skin conditions for that matter.
There are also preventative measures such as special cushions that may be helpful in preventing bedsores for those most susceptible.
When they do discover a bedsore, staff should take steps for immediate treatment. Bedsores should never be allowed to fester and worsen, although that is exactly what happens in far too many cases.
What Is The Best Treatment For Bedsores?
Fast and effective treatment of bedsores is critical in order to prevent them from opening up, which creates a risk of infection which can lead the way for sepsis. What may seem like a minor medical issue can turn life-threatening in a surprisingly short period of time.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the first and most obvious step to take in treating a bedsore is to remove pressure. This might be accomplished simply by changing the patient’s position.
Next, the affected area needs to be cleaned and bandaged. Dressing may need to be changed regularly and the wound must be kept clean.
Depending on the severity, debridement may be necessary to remove damaged or dead skin. Skin grafting may be required to replace the skin that was removed with healthy skin from another part of the body.
Medication, particularly antibiotics to prevent or fight infection, may also be prescribed.
Work With A Team That Has A Successful Record Of Helping Bedsore Victims And Their Families
At Reddick Law, we listen to what happened and then investigate what was done, not done or could have been done to prevent this painful and preventable injury.
Our team of elder law and injury attorneys has law offices in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, and helps people nationwide. If your loved one is hurting, let us help. Call our team at 877-930-2080 or fill out our online contact form.