Bed sores form when a person lays immobile in the same area for long periods. The skin is pressed against the bone in the body and a hard surface, and the blood circulation to that area is reduced, at which point an ulcer is formed beneath the surface of the skin. If this decubitus ulcer is left untreated, it will continue to feed on living tissue, which will eventually create an open wound.
Bed Sore Infections
An open wound is vulnerable for serious and quick infection. Many times, the bed sores are neglected due to their conspicuous locations such as beneath the knees, under the heel, or on the back. When left untreated for too long, the bed sore can advance to the third and last stages, which are very hazardous to one’s health and requires substantial treatment. In the last stage, the ulcer eats away gradually the healthy tissue, and begins to attack the bone. In some severe cases, the bone is visible through the gape of the wound. During the last two stages, infections are most common.
Infections within the bone and the blood are serious side effects of advanced bed sores. Sometimes the infection has advanced to such a degree that the antibiotics and medications provided are not enough to stop the infection from spreading. This is when amputation of the limb is required before the infection spreads to the rest of the body. Amputation of the leg is most common, most often in the form of an above the knee amputation.
The ulcer and the infection have developed such deep roots, that the medications and surgery are not enough to treat the bed sore. Although amputation can be a solution to this serious problem, but there are strong risks associated with amputations. Many patients have developed infections after their limb has been amputated, which has either resulted in further disabilities, and in some cases, death.
The Role of Caregivers
Many times, these bed sores can be prevented from forming if the hospital and nursing home staff take the proper precautions with the immobile patients who are most at risk for developing bed sores. If caregivers move the patients around throughout the day, this will alleviate pressure off the risk areas, or areas, which are developing bed sores. If bed sores have developed, proper and immediate treatment is necessary before the bed sores develop into a more serious medical condition.
A bed sore can be treated and controlled if found early. Bed sores are detected late, most often due to negligence of a caregiver. There are serious repercussions for bed sores that have progressed to further stages. When the infected bed sores are no longer responding to antibiotics and the infection is spreading quickly, surgery and amputation is necessary to avoid further complications. Thus, because bed sores can lead to amputations, early detection and treatment are of utmost importance. A bed sore can develop into something very serious, which can debilitate the patient and change their lives forever.