How Long Does It Take to Get Bed Sores in a Nursing Home?
It may only take a few hours for your loved one’s bedsores to form in a nursing home. However, several factors may speed up their formation, including age, surface material, health complications, and nutrition.
Nursing homes have a general and medical responsibility to assess, prevent, treat, and monitor bedsore injuries. Otherwise, they may be liable for nursing home abuse or neglect.
Family members whose loved one sustained bedsore injuries, may file a monetary claim related to their losses.
The Amount of Time To Get Bedsores in a Nursing Home
How long does it take to get bed sores in a nursing home? It can take as little as several hours before bedsores begin to form. One study indicates that they start developing within a four- to six-hour timeframe after applying constant loading pressure to a specific body part.
Bedsores typically form on tailbones, heels, and ankles. There are other factors, aside from pressure or friction, that speed up their formation:
- Age: Adults aged 70 years or older have a higher risk of developing bedsore injuries. The reason is due to the thinning of the skin, fat, and muscles. Older people tend to weigh less and lack physical cushioning and support. Bedsores also take longer to heal since the cell repair rate diminishes over time as we age.
- Surface type: Softer surfaces tend to lessen the risk of developing bedsores since it places less pressure on the body. Nursing homes and medical facilities must consider surfaces as patients and residents are sitting or lying down.
- Smoking: Cigarette smokers experience more risk to bedsores than those who do not. Smoking restricts your ability to circulate blood while simultaneously reducing oxygen due to increased nicotine levels.
- Diabetes: Diabetes and other vascular issues cause reduced circulation in the human body. Therefore, body parts sustaining pressure may not receive proper blood flow.
- Malnourishment: At any age, the body requires nutritious food and clean water. Older adults need extra care in this regard. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to the deterioration of the muscle, fat, and bone tissue. It also makes it more difficult for the body to repair itself when experiencing bedsores.
- Incontinence: Adults with incontinence are at a higher chance of developing bedsores. Urine and fecal matter cause the skin to remain moist, which aids in the breakdown of already delicate tissue. It can also cause infections to enter the wound.
While it is true that specific factors cause bedsores to develop faster in some adults, there are measures that nursing homes can take to reasonably prevent bedsores from forming in the first place. If a nursing home staff member discovers them on a resident, doctors should be notified so that they can treat the bedsores immediately and monitor them until they heal.
How Nursing Homes Can Prevent Bedsores
The prevention of bedsores starts by assessing the risk level of the patient. Nursing homes use the Braden Scale to help them measure risk in the following six areas:
- Sensory perception
- Exposure to moisture
- Activity level
- Exposure to pressure or friction
Medical care providers score the risk of patients to assess whether a severe, moderate, mild, or no risk exists. Nursing homes should treat older adults with extra care, since they have a higher risk of exposure.
The techniques below are the general methods of preventing bedsores nursing homes should use:
- Repositioning: Moving the patient is critical to the prevention of bedsores. It reduces the pressure points created by long periods of lying down or sitting. Researchers believe it is the most effective prevention method.
- Nutrition: Nourished patients tend to heal faster than malnourished ones. Protein is an excellent food source to prevent bedsore
- Skincare: Having clean, dry skin reduces the risk of infection while preserving the skin’s integrity. Individuals must be thoroughly towel-dried after bathing. If incontinence is an issue, adult diapers should be changed regularly.
It is completely possible to prevent bedsores in nursing homes. Therefore, family members, who have observed bedsores, have every right to feel concerned for their loved one’s health and safety. There is compensation available for financial, mental, and physical losses.
When You Can Sue a Nursing Home for Bedsores
If your loved one received bedsore injuries due to abuse or negligence, you can file a claim for compensation. Each state has its own set of unique principles to follow. Therefore, you must speak with a nursing home injury lawyer to understand how you can pursue compensation.
You might be able to receive money for medical expenses, relocation costs, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and wrongful death for bedsore injuries. There is a statute of limitations—or deadline—that pertains to your case, which means that you may want to talk to a legal professional sooner than later to avoid missing it.
Why Do Elderly People Get Bedsores?
Elderly people get bedsores from extended and repeated pressure or friction on specific areas of their bodies. There are varying stages of bedsores, and when left unnoticed or untreated, it may result in the tissue death of the afflicted area.
Several factors may increase your loved one’s potential for developing bedsores. However, the nursing home medical staff must actively treat and prevent them.
When elderly people get bedsores, it may be due to nursing home abuse or neglect. Speaking with a nursing home injury lawyer can help you understand the next steps to take.
Bedsores and Commonly Associated Symptoms
Sometimes referred to as pressure sores, bedsores are a skin injury due to prolonged exposure to pressure or friction. Typical locations of bedsores include the tailbone, heels, hips, and ankles. Symptoms and warning signs of bedsores include:
- Changes in the skin’s texture or color
- Pus draining
- Skin temperature changes
There are varying degrees in the progression of bedsores of which you should be aware. Our nursing home injury lawyers describe the four stages of bedsore pressure injuries below:
Stage One: This stage is the least threatening since open wounds are not present. The sensation is generally painful to the touch, and discoloration is present. Your family member’s skin may feel warmer or cooler than normal.
Stage Two: In stage two, the skin breaks. Typically, an open wound forms and the body feels intensified pain. It can tear and deeply penetrate the tissue. The appearance looks like a blister. At this stage, the skin is at risk for permanent disfigurement or necrosis.
Stage Three: As bedsore progresses, stage three presents as a much deeper open wound. A small crater may form that exposes fatty tissue.
Stage Four: This stage of a bedsore is where the most extensive damage occurs. The skin crater extends beyond fatty tissue and may expose bone, tendons, and muscles. Most people at this stage do not feel any pain since there is significant nerve damage.
Activities That Cause Elderly People to Get Bedsores
Elderly people can get bedsores due to extended pressure and friction to the affected body part. Medical care providers typically break causes into the following two categories:
- Sustained pressure: This is caused by sitting or lying in the same position for a long period of time.
- Friction: If a body part is moved along a surface during certain activities, the friction can lead to bedsore over time.
Other elements affect your loved one’s susceptibility to bedsores. The body of an elderly person is extra sensitive to pressure and friction due to the thinning of the skin and other tissues. The following variables can reduce the skin’s integrity:
- Mobility issues
- Nerve damage
- Cigarette smoking
- Circulation issues
Nursing homes assess a resident’s susceptibility to bedsores using the Braden Scale. It is an evidence-based tool that assigns a bedsore risk score to a person and prescribes care based on that number and continued monitoring.
Bedsores May Cause Other Health Complications
The damage caused by bedsores does not limit itself to the skin. Nursing homes must protect vulnerable people from contracting them for so many reasons, including an increased risk for other medical complications.
Without adequate care and monitoring, when elderly people get bedsores it can cause:
- Joint infections
These conditions not only cause significant injury, but they can also result in death. Bedsores are serious. The nursing home staff has a medical duty of care to reasonably prevent them, as well as provide follow-up care if they form.
What to Do If You Think Abuse or Neglect Caused Your Loved One’s Bedsores
Concerned family members are right to question the cause of their loved one’s bedsores. While it is important to remember that they shouldn’t happen in the first place, nursing homes have a high rate of occurrence.
Here are some actions family members can take to handle the situation further:
- Interview the medical and nursing home staff about the injury
- Ask your loved one about their treatment
- Report acts of violence or negligence to law enforcement or state agencies
- Contact a nursing home injury lawyer
If you discover that abuse or negligence played a role, you have the opportunity to file a claim or lawsuit for compensation. Your state has specific deadlines by which you can file a claim, which means that you should contact a nursing home injury lawyer as soon as possible.
For a free legal consultation with a Bedsores Lawyer serving nationwide, call (800) 842-6336
Signs of Bedsores
Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores. Many elderly people develop bedsores due to their lack of mobility accompanied by the fact they are either bedridden or must remain in a wheelchair. Injuries to the skin and tissue often develop due to prolonged pressure upon the skin. Typically, the skin most affected tends to be that which covers bonier areas of the body such as the hips, heels, ankles, shoulders, or tailbone.
Many elderly residents of nursing homes remain unable to reposition themselves or have limited ability to independently move on their own. This limited ability to move results in a static position wherein one area continues to receive pressure continuously. Bedsores can develop quite quickly, and it is imperative that any bedsore receives immediate medical attention.
Warning Signs of Bedsores
The first warning sign of a bedsore is simply that a nursing home resident may have limited mobility. This should place the nursing home on immediate notice that they need to exercise additional measures to monitor and reposition patients who are confined to beds and wheelchairs. However, knowing that these elderly residents are more susceptible to bedsores, nursing home staff members should know the warning signs of their development.
Often, one of the first signs of a bedsore is a change in the skin color of the elderly resident. This change can be subtle and first present as simple redness. However, in other cases, the skin could become dark red or even change in texture.
In some cases, the skin surrounding the bedsores will become swollen and warm to the touch. In some cases, the skin may become cooler to the touch. Additionally, the skin may have pus-like drainage, and the victim will feel the area is tender or, in some cases, itchy.
Blisters or Open Sores
Another warning sign of a bedsore is something that appears similar to a blister or even an open wound on the skin. This warning sign occurs a bit later than discoloration and swelling but is still in the earlier stages of bedsores when the ability to treat and resolve a bedsore is easier. In this later stage, the discoloration may appear even darker.
Common Sites of Bedsores
In order to ensure that an elderly resident of a nursing home does not develop serious bedsores, it is critical to monitor them frequently as well as reposition them often. There are several areas that are common sites of bedsores that should receive some sort of inspection every day.
When elderly residents are unable to move from their beds, they may lay on their backs. If this is the case, then bedsores typically appear on the heels, tailbone, elbows, shoulders, and the back of the head. Repositioning a bedridden resident at least every two hours can help in avoiding and preventing bedsores from developing.
Often, elderly residents in nursing homes will lay on their side if they are unable to move from their beds. In these cases, bedsores will typically appear on the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders or ears. Again, simple repositioning every two hours or more can completely prevent these types of bedsores from the beginning.
In other cases, elderly residents remain in wheelchairs in nursing homes. These residents should receive monitoring much more often than bedridden residents and should be repositioned every 15 minutes. The most common areas bedsores appear in for those residents who are in wheelchairs are near the shoulder blades, buttocks, backs of the thighs, heels, and the balls of the feet.
Causes of Bedsores
Understanding the causes of bedsores will help those looking for signs of them developing. The most common factors that contribute to the problem of bedsores include:
- Shearing and Friction. Often, when a person slides across bedsheets, their skin stretches and blood vessels become damaged, which can significantly impair their blood circulation.
- Moisture. If an elderly resident is wet from either perspiration, feces, or urine, the skin that is already under pressure may suffer further injury. It is important to note that those elderly residents that suffer from incontinence are at a higher risk of developing bedsores and should receive more frequent attention.
- Decreased Mobility. As previously stated, those patients who are either bedridden or confined to wheelchairs have skin that receives inadequate blood flow in the pressured areas.
- Decreased Sensation. Elderly patients that suffer from decreased sensations also are at greater risk for bedsores. These residents should receive constant monitoring and repositioning to alleviate any signs of bedsores.
- Nutrition. Elderly residents of a nursing home should receive proper nutrition throughout each day, every day. Poor nutrition can create an environment where an elderly person’s skin does not have enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, leading to thinner skin.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Neglect?
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you find bedsores on their body, it may mean that neglect is occurring. You should ask your loved one’s caretakers for the reason that bedsores are emerging and what they are doing to treat your loved one’s bedsores.
Bedsores are preventable and typically only occur in situations where your loved one is not treated with care. They are a sign of neglect.
Caretakers at nursing home facilities have an obligation to be aware of patients who may develop bedsores and take steps to reposition them often. If bedsores do occur, nursing home staff should be aware of it and take steps to treat them. Left untreated, bedsores can lead to worsening wounds and further complications, such as infections.
If you continue to see bedsores across multiple visits or feel that the bedsores are not receiving attention and treatment by nursing home staff, it could signal a larger problem like ongoing neglect or even abuse.
Recognizing Forms of Abuse and Neglect
Bedsores could be a sign that passive neglect is occurring on behalf of the assisted living facility. Passive neglect occurs when caretakers fail to tend to their duties with a level of care necessary to maintain the long-term health and well-being of your loved one.
Passive neglect is not the only form of mistreatment that occurs in nursing homes. Other forms of nursing home mistreatment include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Willful deprivation
- Financial exploitation
Knowing the signs of these types of abuse, especially if you have already seen the presence of bedsores on your loved one, will help you advocate for your loved one in the nursing facility. If you detect any indicators of mistreatment, we recommend you call law enforcement immediately.
Possible Signs of Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect
If you see any of the following symptoms in your loved one, it may indicate that the nursing home caretakers are not treating him or her with due care. Some examples of elder abuse include:
- A messy, disheveled appearance, including dirty clothes and uncombed hair.
- The presence of physical signs of abuse, such as cuts, bruises, burns, scratches, and scrapes.
- The presence of bedsores, especially over the course of multiple visits.
- Changes in your loved one’s behavior.
- A lack of interest in activities that your loved one typically enjoys, such as group activities with other residents.
- Signs of anxiety and trauma, such as recoiling from your touch, fidgeting, and rocking back and forth for no apparent reason.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Apparent signs of confusion, which could be a symptom of sleep deprivation caused by trauma and anxiety.
- A seemingly depressed mood.
- Uncharacteristic outbursts, especially violent ones.
- Poor personal hygiene, which may suggest that caretakers are not administering basic care.
In addition to these possible signs of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, it is important that you also watch out for warning signs that caretakers are financially exploiting your loved one.
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Bed Sores From Nursing Home Neglect Are “Never Events”
Bed sores are a preventable injury that occurs from sitting or lying in one position for too long. Also called pressure injuries, these injuries happen when pressure applied to the skin prevents blood flow from reaching that area—usually for more than two or three hours—and the skin becomes injured and even starts to die.
Bedsores are visible and can cause severe pain, which is why bedsores are usually a sign of nursing home neglect. Nursing homes should have procedures in place to move patients who are lying in bed, sitting in wheelchairs, or otherwise immobile for long periods of time. Because of this, bed sores form nursing home neglect are “never events.”
When nursing home staff allows patients to sit or lay immobile for long periods of time, it is often because of neglect. If bed sores are allowed to develop, it is an indication of neglect, as the patient has likely complained about discomfort and not received the care they needed to treat the bed sore.
Stages of Bed Sores
Bed sores happen in four stages, with the wound increasing in severity with each stage. The four stages are:
- The area starts to feel warm to the touch and usually begins to hurt, itch, or burn. If not treated, an ulcer will likely appear.
- In this stage, the damage to the skin becomes even more apparent, and an open wound will appear. In this stage, the person is likely in severe pain.
- At this stage, a crater develops under the skin. The damage to the tissue is so severe that the patient may not even be in pain anymore.
- In this final stage, the wound is deep and can impact the muscles, bones, tendons, and joints. At this stage, there is a strong likelihood of a life-threatening infection or other complications such as sepsis.
While policies should be in place to prevent a patient from reaching a stage one bed sore, staff should take immediate action to prevent a bedsore when a patient complains about any discomfort. One treatment, after all, is simply moving the patient to allow blood flow to resume to the area.
A patient who develops even more severe bed sores is being neglected and needs to receive immediate medical attention.
Treatments for Bed Sores
As mentioned, one treatment for bed sores is simply moving the patient to remove pressure from the affected area. Other treatments include:
- Administering medication like antibiotics.
- Protecting the sore with medicated dressings.
- Keeping the area clean.
- Removing any dead or damaged tissue from the wound.
- Ensuring that the patient receives proper nutrition to help their body fight off infection and heal.
- Transplanting new, healthy skin to the damaged area.
Methods for Preventing Bed Sores
Bed sores are a preventable injury. Some simple methods for preventing residents in nursing homes from developing bed sores are:
- Inspecting the skin periodically for areas of redness, paying particular attention to areas that are most prone to bed sores.
- Turning or repositioning the resident every two hours.
- Keeping the residents’ skin clean and dry and practicing a good skin care regimen.
- Providing wheelchairs and beds with soft padding to reduce the likelihood of a pressure injury.
Nursing homes should take the necessary steps to ensure that residents in their facilities do not develop bed sores unless they have a condition that makes them unavoidable. In situations where patients cannot move without making their conditions worse, bed sores may be unavoidable. That said, they are not inevitable, and staff can take measures to decrease the likelihood of even those patients developing bed sores.
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Side Effects of Bedsores
If an elderly resident in a nursing home or the nursing home staff discovers a bedsore in the early stages, they can resolve it quickly with minimal treatments. However, if bedsores are not detected or treated in a reasonable period of time, they can develop into serious and life-threatening conditions or cause death. Bedsores are easily treatable in the first stages of the medical condition. If your elderly loved one is a resident in a nursing home, you should always ensure that their health is a priority and they are being monitored for bedsores on a regular basis.
Bedsores are also known as pressure sores and pressure ulcers. Bedsores occur when a person sits or lies in one position for too long causing pressure against the skin. Elderly residents of nursing homes are particularly susceptible to bedsores, as they have thinner skin and are often limited to wheelchairs or beds.
Bedsores occur due to constant pressure and friction when the skin rubs against bedding, clothing, or shear, causing friction (which is when two surfaces move in opposing directions). Any of these instances can cause the thin skin of elderly residents to develop into bedsores.
The prevention of bedsores helps ensure that these sores or pressure ulcers never result in any long or difficult treatments. If found early in either Stage 1 or Stage 2, bedsores can be easily treated and will heal within a short period of time. In these stages, the bedsores usually present themselves as discolored skin or some smaller wounds. Again, in these early stages, bedsores are entirely treatable and can go away in a few days or weeks. Nursing home residents should receive proper attention to ensure repositioning occurs on a timely basis, and that skin inspections occur daily to ensure the prevention of more serious bedsores developing. If nursing homes fail to provide this care, and don’t provide proper treatment, bedsores can result in life-threatening medical conditions or death.
Advanced Stages of Bedsore
Stage 3 and Stage 4 of bedsores occur when a person has pressure on the following areas:
- Shoulder blades.
- Backs of arms or legs.
- Lower back.
- Skin behind the knees.
- Other areas where their body would rest on a wheelchair or in bed.
In these advanced stages, bedsores will include missing layers of skin, permanent damage of surrounding tissue, injury to the bone, tissue, tendons, and joints, and may develop infections. Several different side effects of bedsores can result in life-threatening medical conditions or death.
Serious Side Effects of Bedsores
Bedsores can result in serious infections and injuries to the skin and underlying tissue. While bedsores themselves can become infected and cause permanent damage to bone, tendons, joints, and tissues, other even more serious side effects can occur as well.
- Cancer. In extreme cases, bedsores can lead to squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer requires surgery and can prove life-threatening. In many cases, the bedsore was in an extreme state and left unattended, and years later the lesion turned into Marjolin’s ulcer, which is the malignant (serious and potentially deadly) transformation of a chronic bedsore.
- Cellulitis. Cellulitis is the inflammation of connective tissues. When tissues become damaged and infected due to untreated bedsores, cellulitis can occur. Cellulitis may result in sepsis in certain elderly residents.
- Sepsis. Sepsis is a bacterial infection of either bodily tissues or the bloodstream. If an elderly patient develops sepsis from a bedsore, this may result in death.
It is important to note that these side effects remain preventable if an elderly resident of a nursing home receives proper attention and care.
Bedsores Are Easily Treatable in Early Stages
In the early stages, bedsores are extremely treatable and will resolve rather quickly. If your elderly loved one is in a nursing home and developed any side effects of bedsores, you may have a case for negligence or medical malpractice. Nursing homes have a duty and obligation to ensure that their elderly residents receive continuous monitoring daily for the occurrence or presence of bedsores. Nursing home facilities must have assessments regarding each of their residents in place that will determine how often a resident needs repositioning either in a wheelchair or their bed. If the nursing home staff fails to reposition an elderly resident or monitor them every day for bedsores, the result can be catastrophic.
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Stages of Bedsores from Nursing Home Abuse
Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, are injuries that can happen to the skin when someone is bedridden or immobile. There are four stages of pressure ulcers:
- Stage one: The area is typically warm and red. It may be painful or burn or itch, although there is no open sore at this stage.
- Stage two: In this stage, the skin may break open or form a tender and painful sore or blister. The person is usually going to experience significant pain at this stage. The skin at this stage may be irreparably damaged or could die.
- Stage three: In this stage, the bedsore continues to get worse and forms a crater beneath the skin. Fat may be visible in the sore, although not bone, tendons, or deeper tissue.
- Stage four: In this final stage, the bedsore is very deep and could damage the tendons, tissues, and joints. There may be no pain at this point because of the significance of the damage, and the person is at risk for serious infection.
Causes of Bedsores
Bedsores are caused when the blood supply is cut off to the skin for more than two or three hours, damaging the skin and possibly causing it to die. If it is not treated, the skin can break open, and the bedsore can become very deep, causing a potentially life-threatening infection.
Bedsores most commonly occur to the:
- Shoulder blades
- Hips and tailbone
- Back of the head
- Back and sides of the knees
Treatment of Pressure Ulcers (Bedsores)
There are several ways that the nursing home staff could treat bedsores in patients. Pressure ulcer treatment options include:
- Moving the patient to remove pressure from the affected area, allowing blood flow to resume
- Dressing the wound with medicated gauze
- Ensuring the patient receives proper nutrition
- Removing the tissue that has been infected or damaged
- Keeping the wound and surrounding area clean
- Transplanting new, healthy skin to the area with the bedsore
Medical Complications from Bedsores
Bedsores are a preventable injury if a nursing home patient is moved frequently. And because of the pain and discomfort that accompany stage one, they are easy to catch in the early stage before they cause significant damage to the skin.
If they are not prevented and go untreated for too long, they can cause serious and even life-threatening complications, including:
- Cellulitis: This is an infection that occurs to the skin and surrounding soft tissue. The patient may not feel pain from cellulitis if they are suffering from nerve damage because of the severity of the bedsore.
- Sepsis: While this is rare, a particularly severe bedsore can lead to sepsis. This occurs when the infection from the bedsore triggers a chain reaction in the body and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, or death.
- Bone and joint infections: This occurs when the infection caused by the bedsore damages the cartilage or tissue in the joints or impacts the function of joints or limbs.
Receiving a Financial Award Due to Nursing Home Abuse
If a nursing home resident is suffering, or possibly lost their life, after having to endure any of the stages of bedsores from nursing home abuse, they–or possibly their family–may be entitled to a financial award to recover their losses. Some of the common types of compensation after injuries like these include:
- Medical expenses like ambulance rides, surgical procedures, medication, doctor’s examinations, and treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket costs
If the nursing home resident perished because of complications related to a bedsore, the family of the victim may be entitled to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit could include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages from time away from work caring for the now deceased
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical costs left to the family to cover
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
While rare, in some cases, the court will also award punitive damages. These are intended to punish the defendant for behavior that is particularly egregious and discourage them or others in behaving in such a way again.
How to Treat Bedsores
If your elderly loved one lives as a resident in a nursing home and suffers from bedsores (also referred to as pressure sores and pressure ulcers), you may suspect nursing home abuse or neglect since bedsores take some time to develop. Nursing home facilities have the responsibility and duty to care for their elderly residents and ensure that they do not develop bedsores. If your elderly loved one suffers from bedsores, here is a brief guide regarding how to treat bedsores.
Treatment of Bedsores by Stage
There are four stages of bedsores from minor to life-threatening. Each stage has its own specific set of treatments available. The following is a brief overview of how to treat bedsores and the types of treatments each stage may receive.
Stage One Treatment
This is the first stage of a bedsore, and bedsores are easiest to treat at this stage. In Stage One, the skin is typically not broken yet but will appear discolored. In many cases where the body pressure resulted in a bedsore, the skin will show the difference in thickness, temperature, roughness, or color (typically light red). One way to test a bedsore at this stage is to push on and near the area and see if it stays red. If the area stays a reddish color and does not change to white or lighten in any way, then this is likely the beginning stages of a bedsore.
At Stage One, the best treatment is to remove all pressure from the area. Keep the area completely clean and dry. Make sure that your elderly loved one eats enough healthy food to ensure that their body is receiving adequate nutrients, which assists in the healing of skin and tissue. Additionally, make sure the elderly resident drinks enough water and stays hydrated so that the skin and tissue are not dehydrated. The area of the bedsore should receive frequent inspection and if the redness of the bedsore does not resolve within two or three days, you should contact a medical professional. Typically, bedsores at this stage should heal within three or four days. Again, the staff at a nursing home facility knows how to treat bedsores so if you notice that your loved one has developed bedsores, they are a sign of neglect.
Stage Two Treatment
At this stage, the site of the bedsore appears broken and open as the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) is now ripped which resulted in an open sore that is shallow. In some cases, the next layer of skin (dermis) also rips open at this stage. Drainage of fluid or pus may appear visible or may leak.
During Stage Two, nursing home residents should receive all the treatments outlined in Stage One, as well as removing absolutely all pressure from the area. This stage is more serious, and a physician or health care provider should inspect the wound and determine the next steps. In some cases, simple prevention and attention can result in complete resolution of bedsores. In other cases, mild infection occurred and a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
Stage Three Treatment
At this stage, the bedsore wound extends past the initial layers of skin down into the fatty subcutaneous tissue well below the upper skin tissue. At this stage, bone, tendons, and muscles are not visible yet, but the area may show signs of infection. Symptoms such as odor, pus, redness around the edge of the wound, greenish colored drainage, or necrosis (dead, black tissue) could signal a serious infection.
In this stage, the wound should have absolutely no pressure on it whatsoever. Additionally, a doctor or physician should inspect and examine the bedsore immediately. In many cases, special wound care will need to occur along with a course of antibiotics for any infections. At this stage, an elderly nursing home resident may qualify for a special pressure-relieving mattress that will lessen the risk of bedsores in the future. Bedsores at this stage are very serious and can take from one to four months to completely heal under a doctor’s care.
Stage Four Treatment
At this final and very serious stage, a bedsore wound will extend into the muscle, and perhaps even as far as the bone. A great deal of dead tissue and drainage exist and in most cases, the wound will suffer from an infection.
At this stage, your elderly loved one should seek immediate medical attention. Oftentimes, a doctor will indicate that the wound requires surgery. The healing time for this stage of a bedsore can be anywhere from three months to two years. In some cases, the wounds never completely heal or have additional medical complications including certain types of cancer, cellulitis, or sepsis.
How Do You Treat Bedsores in Elderly?
Treating bedsores in the elderly requires cleaning the wounds, applying bandages, and doing whatever possible to keep the person with bedsores from putting pressure on them. Bedsores are the result of sitting or lying in one position for too long. This occurs most often in elderly populations who live in nursing homes.
Know How to Treat Bedsores
When you discover bedsores, it is important to know how to treat them. The process to treat bedsores in the elderly includes:
- Cleaning: A caregiver will use an antiseptic, topical treatment, or wash with a saline solution to prevent the risk of infection.
- Bandaging: Apply a bandage to the affected area to trap moisture and keep the sore from drying out. Caregivers use films, gauze, gels, foams, and other medically approved coverings. A combination of these items may be necessary depending on the stage of the bedsore.
- Medication: Many over-the-counter medications may be used to reduce pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, are helpful after cleaning and dressing the wound.
- Therapy: A caregiver may use vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) to help clean a wound with suction. This is designed to prevent infection and keep the area around the wound dry.
- Diet: Patients with diabetes are more at risk of developing bedsores. Eating foods high in nutritional value aids the body with healing.
- Surgery: Your doctor may elect to perform surgery depending on how long the bedsore is taking to heal. Using flap reconstruction, the surgeon can use a pad of your muscle, skin, or other tissue to cushion the wound from the bone.
Speak with a medical professional for the best course of treatment regarding your loved one’s condition. It is important that you treat bedsores in the elderly immediately.
Bedsores Come in Different Stages
Being bedridden, unconscious, or immobile increases the likelihood of developing bedsores. These wounds can be very painful and typically take a long time to heal. A bedsore occurs when continued pressure is put on areas where the bone is close to the skin and reduces blood flow. Such areas include the heels of the feet, a person’s shoulder blades, the backs and sides of the knees, the back of the head, the tailbone, or the hips.
The stage of the bedsore determines what kind of care is necessary to treat bedsores in the elderly. These stages are:
- Stage 1: The affected area looks red and may feel warm to the touch. In patients with darker complexions, the area may appear to have a blue or purple tint. The patient may report burning, itching, or persistent pain.
- Stage 2: The area appears to be an open sore, scrape, or blister. The skin around the wound is discolored and shows signs of irritation.
- Stage 3: The sore now shows loss of skin and takes on a crater-like appearance. These sores can extend to the layer of fat beneath the skin.
- Stage 4: The most severe stage, the sore is now a full-thickness wound that extends deep into the underlying muscle or bone.
Once you have treated the bedsores and taken steps to minimize the chances of new bedsores forming, you should consider the circumstances that led to the development of your loved one’s condition.
A critical part of caregiving is actively preventing conditions and treating them immediately if they start to develop. If you are the one that discovered your loved one’s bedsores, it may be a red flag that their caregivers failed to uphold basic standards of care. It could even be considered elder abuse.
Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Bedsores?
You can likely sue a nursing home for bedsores.
How Bedsores Happen
When a person remains lying in one position for an extended period of time, they place continuous pressure on their skin. Gradually, the pressure begins to damage the person’s tissue and skin, which grows more sensitive with age. Pressure ulcers form, especially on parts of the skin that covers hips, shoulder blades, and heels. Pressure ulcers can also form on your head, tailbone, knees, and other bony parts of the body.
These ulcers also result from friction when an elderly person’s fragile skin rubs against sheets or clothing. They can also result from sliding down in bed, which causes shear on the skin.
Nursing Home Staff Are Responsible for the Prevention of Bedsores
Bedsores are a common threat to patients at long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Nursing homes train their staff on the importance of turning their residents from one position to another every few hours. They can also lessen the pressure on bony parts of the body by cushioning them with a foam pad. Staff must maintain residents’ cleanliness and keep their skin moisturized but dry.
When these residents develop bedsores, family members can take legal action against the nursing home.
Other Risk Factors the Nursing Home Can Mitigate
While positioning and lack of cleanliness can cause bedsores for nursing home residents, staff should also be aware of other risk factors that can create bedsores, especially in the elderly:
- Loss of sensation: The resident does not feel the discomfort associated with their position and, therefore, does not change positions on their own, even if they can do so.
- Low circulation: Some medical conditions slow blood flow, which heightens the risk of tissue damage.
- Lack of hydration and/or nourishment: Healthy skin requires plenty of fluids, vitamins, protein, and calories.
Nursing home staff should be aware of each resident’s ability to develop bedsores considering the above risk factors. These facilities should include measures in their care to counter the risk of bedsores among residents.
Signs and Symptoms of Bedsores
If you suspect your bedridden or low-mobility loved one may be experiencing neglect, consider checking for the following signs and symptoms of bedsores:
- Changes in skin texture or color for no explanation.
- Parts of the body that are tender.
- Areas of swelling.
- Patches that are warm or cool to the touch.
- Pus-like draining.
Dangers and Complications of Bedsores
Foul-smelling sores that grow increasingly red, warm, swollen, or that are draining may be signs of an infection. Infections can cause a range of complications, starting with cellulitis—a swelling of the infected region. If infection sets in the resident’s joints and bones, it can damage surrounding tissue. Infections in the bone can impair movement of limbs and joints.
If a bedsore fails to heal and persists for a long time, it can transform into a squamous cell carcinoma (cancer). There is also a small but dangerous risk of sepsis with bedsore infections. Contact our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today if you are considering suing a nursing home due to your loved one’s bedsores: (800) 201-3999.
Treatment for Bedsores
To treat your loved one’s bedsores, you will likely need to enlist the expertise of qualified medical personnel, including some of the following:
- Primary care physician
- Wound care specialist
- Medical assistants
- Social worker for resources and emotional support
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Plastic surgeon
- Orthopedic surgeon
Other Signs of Neglect in A Nursing Home
U.S. News and World Report reported several other warning signs of bad nursing home care, which include:
- Unanswered call lights and phone calls.
- Unusually frequent turnover in staff.
- Staff’s inability or unwillingness to answer questions or address your concerns.
- Malnourished or dehydrated guests.
- Few or no improvements to the facility.
- Dramatic changes in a patient’s physical abilities and emotional well-being.
- A gut feeling that something is wrong.
Who Can Sue for Nursing Home Abuse?
You can sue for nursing home abuse or elder abuse if your claim meets the legal requirements that courts look for. In most states, the person filing the claim must be a family member of the injured resident or listed as his or her personal representative.
Due to the complex nature of nursing home abuse cases, talking to a nursing home abuse lawyer helps you determine what the elements and supporting evidence are for compensation.
Family Members Who Can Sue for Nursing Home Abuse
In most states, the laws specify who can sue for nursing home abuse on behalf of the victim. Even though a friend or acquaintance might want to intervene, most states require a family member or personal representative to file a lawsuit.
Typically, the following individuals can file a personal injury or a wrongful death suit on behalf of the nursing home victim:
- The personal representative of the estate
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be opportunities to protect your family member and seek compensation. Speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer to help you understand your options when determining who can file a claim.
Elements to Establish a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Your nursing home abuse claim must meet certain legal factors for it to be actionable. Actionable is a legal term that indicates when a case has enough grounds to file a lawsuit.
In general, there are three types of nursing home abuse cases filed: personal injury, medical malpractice, or wrongful death. The common issue between these types of cases is that the nursing home has a duty of care that it must maintain for its residents, which it failed to meet.
Each type of case has specific elements needed to become actionable.
Personal injury law covers nursing home abuse cases if in which the facility intentionally breached its duty of care and resulted in your loved one’s injuries. The injuries caused him or her to incur financial, mental, and physical losses.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider breaches his or her medical duty of care, which results in an injury to the patient. Your loved one’s injuries caused him or her to sustain financial or physical losses.
Wrongful death occurs when an abusive individual or medical provider fails to meet the medical standard of care, which causes your loved one to lose his or her life. Surviving family members can file a claim to recover their financial and emotional losses.
Financial Compensation Is Available for Nursing Home Abuse Claims
Compensation is available to nursing home abuse victims and their surviving family members. Hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer is a practical and lawful approach toward understanding the types of compensation available to you through a settlement or lawsuit award.
Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove the elements of the claim you filed. He or she may advise you to pursue the following forms of restitution:
- Past and future medical costs
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Monetary compensation for financial abuse
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of life
This list does not include many other options that may be available. If you are wondering if you can sue for nursing home abuse, or if you can receive compensation for a particular loss, a nursing home abuse lawyer will help you determine those things. He or she will stand by your side to make sure you recover as much of your losses as possible.
The Statute of Limitations
The state in which you live has rules that determine how long you have to file a lawsuit—this is known as the statute of limitations. Your attorney will review your case to help you understand which deadlines may affect your case and so that you meet them before they expire.
If you have missed your state’s statute of limitations, there are general guidelines that a state may use to address this situation. However, it will require the application of the law to know where you stand fully, and a nursing home abuse lawyer can help.
Getting Care for a Loved One With Bed Sores From Nursing Home Neglect
If your loved one is in a nursing home or long-term care facility and has developed pressure sores, they need to receive medical attention to heal the damage to their skin, prevent infection from happening, and prevent more bed sores from developing.
You especially need to get help if your loved one’s bed sores have progressed beyond the early stages or if they are not responding to treatment as they should.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here to help. Bed sores, especially those that have developed beyond the early stages, are usually an indication of nursing home neglect and abuse. If your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, you have the right to hold the at-fault party responsible for their injuries.
Contact us today at (800) 842-6336 for a free, no-risk review of your case. We do not shy away from tough cases, and our clients pay nothing out of pocket and nothing upfront. We take our fee from the settlement you receive. Call us today to find out what your options are.
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