Bedsores are often caused by elder abuse at nursing homes. When elderly residents of nursing homes suffer from bedsores, also known as pressures sores or pressure ulcers, nursing home abuse or neglect is often the cause of this preventable condition. If your elderly loved one is suffering from bedsores, you may have a strong case to receive compensation on their behalf.
Bedsores and Nursing Home & Elder Abuse
It is important to note that most cases of bedsores are caused by neglect or abuse. They are not uncommon, with more than one in 10 nursing home residents suffering from bedsores, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these nursing home residents are unable to move freely. They are unable to reposition themselves in their wheelchair or bed, and when nursing home staff neglects them, bedsores occur. While bedsores caught early go away quickly with treatment, nursing home abuse and neglect of bedsores can lead to increased rates of mortality. Many experts argue that bedsores should never appear, and if your elderly loved one suffers from bedsores in a nursing home, they probably suffered elder abuse or neglect.
How Bedsores Happen in Nursing Homes
Bedsores should never occur in nursing homes that have adequate staffing and take care of their elderly residents. Three factors contribute to severe bedsores suffered by elderly residents in nursing homes.
Elderly residents often already suffer from thinning skin due to either their age or a medical condition such as diabetes. Often, medications can also cause thinning of the skin. Nursing home neglect and abuse leads to malnutrition and dehydration, which are other causes of thinning skin.
When an elderly resident has thinner skin, and there is a loss of muscles and fat, the bones will press directly onto the skin. When an elderly resident is not repositioned frequently, the constant pressure leads to lessened blood flow to that area. Blood flow is a necessary component for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to support healthy tissue function. Bedsores occur when the elderly resident stays in one position too long and their body weight presses their skin directly onto the bone.
Friction occurs when the elderly nursing home’s skin rubs against another substance, such as clothing or bedding. If an elderly resident stays in bed or in a wheelchair all day, the repetitive movements they make will cause friction in specific areas. With thinning skin, these areas often develop bedsores.
Shear occurs when the skin moves in direct opposition to another surface. Nursing home residents often have very thin skin which can tear easily. Along with thin skin, many elderly residents lose muscle fat due to age or medical conditions. Without the extra layer of padding between the bone and the skin, bedsores develop when shear occurs. In a common case, the skin over a tailbone may shear in an elevated bed when the nursing home resident slides down. The skin slides, but the tailbone may stay in the same place causing shear.
Ultimately, all three of these situations that cause bedsores occur due to elder abuse and neglect at nursing homes.
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Appropriate Prevention of Bedsores
Nursing homes must always ensure the safety and care of their residents. The prevention of bedsores is simple and only requires that nursing home staff take precautions for their elderly residents. Nursing home staff should always monitor residents that are bedridden or in wheelchairs and reposition them regularly. If residents are able to move, the nursing home staff should remind them to do so regularly. Special wheelchairs, cushions, and mattresses may help elderly residents not develop bedsores.
Nursing home staff should bathe residents regularly and ensure that they have clean and dry skin and are free from urine, stool, and other moisture. Nursing home residents that suffer from friction or shear should use talcum powder or lotions to prevent bedsores. Any nursing home resident that may be at risk for bedsores should be inspected daily. The absence of these protocols often results in elder abuse. Without constant monitoring of their care and health, nursing home residents suffer from severe bedsores, which might lead to paralysis, sepsis, and death.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
Bedsores are extremely painful and often result in permanent damage. In some severe cases, bedsores result in sepsis and death. Elderly residents of nursing homes should never suffer from bedsores. Bedsores are typically evidence of nursing home and elder abuse. If you feel neglect played a role in your loved one’s bedsores, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 933-4159 to help you with your next steps.