Bed Sores: Not an Inevitable Part of Nursing Home Care

Bed sores are a type of injury in which an individual suffers from open wounds and irritated skin patches that are caused by friction and unrelieved pressure. Elderly people frequently develop bed sores in a nursing home where they may not receive frequent attention from workers. An elderly person may develop bed sores on his or her elbows, sides, hips, knees, ankles and calf muscle areas.

It is unfortunate that bedsores have become commonplace in nursing homes and medical facilities throughout the United States. If your loved one has developed a bedsore or pressure sore, then negligence may account for this adverse medical condition. A bed sore attorney may be able to help file a medical negligence lawsuit on behalf of your loved one and help obtain compensation for his or her case.

Medical Description of Pressure Sores

Pressure sores frequently develop when there is prolonged pressure placed on the skin. In the nursing home context, they can arise when workers fail to turn an elderly person on his or her side or otherwise move the elderly person into a different position. If one remains in a medical bed in the same position for too long, pressure sores can result. Pressure sores are usually very painful, and victims with these injuries are unable to walk or move without a walker or wheelchair. The best treatment practices encourage workers to turn patients every two hours so that they can avoid developing bedsores.

Bedsores and pressure sores can actually pose serious health hazards for those with them. They can cause an unexpected death if an infection results or if a patient experiences reactions to drugs used to treat them. There are also other complications that can result from bedsores, such as septic shock. Septic shock results when open wounds are exposed to bacteria that enters the bloodstream. Loved ones should not be subjected to neglect or improper care that results in the development of bedsores. If they do develop bedsores, then attorneys may be available to assist in the process of filing bed sore lawsuits.

The Symptoms of Pressure Sore StagesStages Of Bed Sores

There are certain signs that can alert family members that a loved one is developing bedsores or has already developed bedsores. The development of a bedsore typically progresses through four stages, and family members can pay attention to the following stages to determine whether a loved one has a bedsore:

  • Stage One: In this stage, the skin is still held together. There is a slight red color to certain areas of the skin, such as the skin that covers the thigh, hip, elbow and knee regions. The skin feels warm, and an elderly person may experience pain in red areas.
  • Stage Two: There is an open wound in the skin. The epidermis has been punctured, and skin has been destroyed. The open wound has a light pink or brown color.
  • Stage Three: The pressure develops into a deep wound in the skin. There is an engraving in the skin, and one can see beneath the skin. There may be yellow, dead tissue surrounding the area.
  • Stage Four: At this point, an elderly person is in danger of experiencing blood loss, infection and serious medical issues. A stage four bedsore has a large-scale loss of tissue and fat. There are very dark and purple areas in the skin.
  • Unstageable Pressure Sore: In some situations where a wound has progressed and there decaying flesh make the wound difficult to evaluate, some facilities characterize the pressure sore as being ‘unstageable’.

Causes of Pressure Sores in Medical Facilities: Nursing Homes & Hospitals

There are various causes of pressure sores in medical facilities for loved ones. When a loved one is not moved from a wheelchair or bed for long periods of time, then the skin is unable to receive nutrients and oxygen. As a result, bedsores develop.

Friction can also cause severe bedsores. Friction usually causes bedsores when inexperienced or improperly trained staff workers attempt to move patients from a bed and into a wheelchair. They may drop a patient or rub his or her skin against the side of a bed. This can cause serious wounds in the skin.

A shear can also cause a serious bedsore. A shear occurs when the skin is pulled in two opposite directions. A patient may fall from a bed or may actually slide against the bed. His or her skin may be pulled by a bed and cause serious bedsores.

Caring for Advanced Pressure Sores and Bedsores

It is possible to treat bedsores if they are discovered early in the developmental process. For stage I or II bedsores, a simple repositioning or use of support surfaces may be enough to heal the bedsore.

When bedsores have progressed to a stage III or IV, then it is likely necessary to remove dead skin from the area. Otherwise, the skin area is at risk for developing an infection and causing serious illness to a loved one. The process of removing dead skin from the bedsore area is referred to as debridement.

Surgery may be required for stage IV and very serious bedsores. Surgery may be required to prevent further fluid loss from the skin region. It may also be required to improve the appearance of the bedsore.

After any of these options has been chosen, it will also be necessary for medical staff workers to properly sanitize and clean the wound area.

Disheartening Statistics on Survival Rates for Patients With Pressure Sores and Bedsores

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released some disheartening statistics about pressure sores in the United States. In 2004, it was discovered that over 159,000 nursing home residents had developed pressure ulcers. The majority of these pressure ulcers were at the stage II phase.

In addition, over 35 percent of nursing home residents who had stage II ulcers were required to receive special care wound services. Over 20 percent of nursing home residents also experienced severe weight loss as a result of the bedsore.

Obtaining Compensation for Loved Ones When Bedsores Develop During an Admission to a Medical Facility With The Help Of Bed Sore Attorneys

A bed sore attorney can help you learn about the damages that may be available for a loved one who has developed bedsores. No resident should have to suffer from bed sores in nursing home environments due to negligence. Bed sore lawsuits can be filed on behalf of a loved one when he or she has developed bed sores in nursing home environments as a result of neglect.

Call one of our bed sore lawyers to receive a free initial consultation about the claims that you may have against a nursing home facility or other person entrusted with the care of your loved one. 888-424-5757

Sources:

  1. Mayo Clinic:
  2. Bed Sores FAQ: http://www.bedsorefaq.com/category/bed-sore-lawsuits/
  3. CDChttp://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db14.htm

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