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.
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.