Bedsores are also known by other names such as pressure ulcers and pressure sores. These sores may seem minor but they can actually become quite dangerous. Pressure ulcers can be a sign that your loved one is being neglected or mistreated in a nursing home or care facility. A relatively minor bedsore can quickly worsen and cause more serious health concerns, especially for the elderly. It is helpful to learn more about pressure ulcers so you can understand how they might be caused by improper care.
What Are Pressure Ulcers?
A pressure ulcer is a painful red sore that appears on the body in an area that is in continual contact with something such as bed linens or medical tubes. According to the Mayo Clinic, pressure ulcers may range from mild to severe. They most often appear when a person is unable to move on their own and therefore remains in one position for an extended period of time.
Nursing homes and other care facilities must properly care for patients who are immobile. They are required to reposition them if they are in one position, such as a bed or wheelchair. The failure to adequately move and readjust a patient’s body could lead to the formation of a bedsore.
Why Are Pressure Sores Dangerous?
Pressure ulcers are categorized into four stages. Stage 1 is the first appearance of the sore. It is a red mark that may be painful. Stage 2 bedsores begin to deepen and a blister may form or the skin may be broken. The area will be painful and might be swollen and pus-filled. A stage 3 bedsore is deeper and may begin to become infected. The sore reaches the fatty layer beneath the top layers of skin. Stage 4 is the most severe stage of bedsores. These sores are infected and might be so deep that they reach the muscle or bone.
Bedsores are dangerous, particularly if left untreated. Once a bedsore breaks the skin it is in danger of becoming infected. Keeping a sore clean can be difficult in the elderly and for those who are bedridden. If an infection develops it can be very hard to resolve. If the infection cannot be gotten under control it could result in sepsis, a serious and life threatening condition where the infection gets into the bloodstream.
How are Pressure Ulcers Prevented?
Pressure ulcers can and should be prevented. Pressure sores won’t develop when a patient is repositioned and not allowed to remain in one spot for too long a period of time. This may require two or more staff members to lift and turn a patient while in a bed or wheelchair. The bedding should also be smoothed out so there are no wrinkles or bunches of fabric rubbing on the patient. Medical tubes must be moved every so often so they don’t keep rubbing on the same part of the body. Pressure ulcers most commonly form on the heels and elbows since these areas are most often in constant contact with linens. However, pressure ulcers may form on any part of the body.
Is the Nursing Home at Fault?
The nursing facility may very well be at fault for neglecting a patient and allowing a pressure sore to form. Once a bedsore develops it can worsen quickly if not treated. Caregivers therefore need to inspect the patient’s body regularly to note the presence of a sore. If a bedsore is detected the patient should be immediately examined by a doctor and put on a care regime. The failure to adequately protect patients from getting sores and the failure to immediately notice the problem and seek medical care may all be considered neglectful care.
If you or a loved one developed a serious bedsore while under the care of a nursing home you may be entitled to compensation. Discuss the matter with the experienced Savannah legal team at The Bader Law Firm to learn more about your legal options.