Bedsores are painful and potentially deadly injuries that can occur among people who are bedridden or continuously in wheelchairs, as many nursing home residents are. Bedsores occur because the constant pressure of a stationary patient’s weight reduces blood supply to the skin and underlying tissue. This causes tissue to die and break apart, leaving an open wound.
In addition to the obvious pain of a bedsore or “pressure ulcer,” such an open wound is an invitation to infection if not treated.
Patients who cannot move on their own should be assisted or turned on a regular basis by their caretakers. A nursing home resident who develops pressure sores has been neglected by staff members who are being paid to care for them.
What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores are painful injuries that have a high potential for serious complications. Bedsores are also called “pressure sores,” “pressure ulcers” or “decubitus ulcers.” Bedsores are more likely to occur where there is less body fat or muscle between skin and bone, such as at the spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels and elbows.
Bedsores are described according to the stage of the tissue damage that has occurred:
- Stage 1: a darkened patch of skin that may be tender and painful to the touch. If not treated it will become a bleeding injury (an ulcer).
- Stage 2: a fluid-filled or ruptured blister in which the outer and secondary layers of skin have worn away.
- Stage 3: a hole in the skin, which usually exposes fat and yellowish dead tissue. There may be additional, deeper tissue damage beyond the primary injury.
- Stage 4: a large wound that may expose muscle, bone or tendons. Damage usually extends below healthy skin around a pressure ulcer.
Left untreated, a bedsore can cause infection, including a potentially deadly infection of the cardiovascular system known as “sepsis,” contracted from bacteria entering the bloodstream through an open sore. Additionally, squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive cancer that develops from chronic, non healing wounds, can form from bedsores.
Stage 1 and 2 bedsores are treated by cleaning and dressing the wound, and relieving pressure on the affected area. If a bedsore is allowed to progress to Stage 3 or 4, the patient will need surgery to remove damaged, dead or infected tissue and repair the wound. The typical procedure is to use a piece of the patient’s muscle, skin or other tissue to cover the wound and cushion the affected bone. This is known as “flap reconstruction.”
Bedsores Should Not Occur in Nursing Homes
Nursing home staff members who care for nonambulatory patients should understand the risk of bedsores and the need to turn or reposition residents who need this assistance. Common medical, nutritional and hygienic care routines to prevent bedsores should also be established, communicated and followed by nursing home staff.
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has specific regulations stating that long-term care facilities must ensure that patients who enter without pressure sores do not develop them unless it can be demonstrated that their clinical condition makes bedsores unavoidable. Residents who develop bedsores are to receive necessary treatment to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new bedsores.
If nursing home residents develop bedsores, they and/or their family may have a legal claim for neglect by the nursing home staff. If your loved one has developed a Stage 3 or 4 bedsore(s) while under the care of a long-term medical care facility, you should seek immediate medical assistance for him or her and contact an experienced nursing home neglect and abuse attorney.
Contact a Louisville Nursing Home Bedsore Attorney
The nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys of the Becker Law Office can help if a loved one of yours has developed bedsores in a Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, or Tennessee nursing home. We can investigate the treatment that has led to your loved one’s injury and determine whether it constitutes an actionable case of neglect. If neglect or abuse is apparent, we can pursue compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses. Filing a nursing home neglect lawsuit focuses attention on a problem and may prevent other nursing home residents from suffering similar injuries.
Please contact the Becker Law Office today to set up a free legal consultation with a nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer. We will work to obtain justice for you and your loved one.