Bed Sores from Nursing Home Neglect
Bed sores can occur in a nursing home or in any setting where an individual spends a good deal of time in bed or confined to a wheelchair. Also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, and pressure ulcers, bed sores develop in areas that protrude from the body such as elbows, hips, and heels. When these areas are under continuous pressure from a bed or wheelchair, the circulation is cut off and tissue and skin is damaged. Eventually the tissue can die if blood flow is not restored.
According to the National Center on Elder Affairs, there are four stages to a bed sore, ranging from irritation and redness of the skin, to deep, crater like sores that expose muscle and bone. Individuals who are unable to change their position on their own must be repositioned by staff at regular intervals to prevent bed sores from forming. Neglect is a common cause for these injuries, and they occur more often in understaffed and poorly managed facilities. Pressure sores can lead to infections which can be life-threatening if not treated. Click here for information about pressure sores from the National Institutes of Health.
Where to Look for Bed Sores
Bed sores can occur anywhere the body makes contact with a firm surface, and where they appear will vary, depending on a person’s body type and whether they are confined to a bed or a wheelchair. While a patient’s entire body should be checked each day, particular attention must be paid to the following areas:
- Back of the head
- Shoulders and shoulder blades
- Elbows and back of arms
- Buttocks and tail bone
- Back of legs
- Behind knees (particularly in wheelchair patients)
Preventing Bed Sores in Nursing Homes
Caregivers can do a great deal to prevent bed sores from forming. A conscientious caregiver will include the following practices to reduce the likelihood of a sedentary patient getting bedsores:
- Change a patient’s position regularly. Every 15 minutes for wheelchair patients and at least every two hours for bed bound patients.
- Use pressure reducing mattresses.
- Inspect a patient’s skin daily. If there is any skin damage, foul smell, infection, or tenderness, immediate medical attention is needed.
- Keep skin clean and dry.
- Change bandages on a regular basis.
- Pay close attention to a patient’s nutrition. Malnutrition can increase the chance of developing bed sores.
- Encourage the patient to get some exercise, even if it’s just moving a limb. This will promote circulation which helps prevent bed sores.
What Medical Complications Can Arise as a Result of Bed Sores?
If not promptly treated, bed sores can lead to an array of other negative medical conditions, including:
- Cancer: chronic pressure sores can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that requires surgery.
- Bone and joint infections can develop; damaging cartilage and tissues, and can also severely restrict joint functions.
- Sepsis: a bacterial infection of the bloodstream or body tissues. Sepsis can result in life-threatening organ failure and other issues.
- Cellulitis: an inflammation of connective tissues. Cellulitis can lead to the development of meningitis, which affects the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain, and can cause brain damage.
Treatment for Bed Sores
In the early stages, in addition to regular repositioning of the patient, bed sores can be treated with antibiotics and cleaning solutions. In more advanced stages, surgery may be required to remove damaged tissue.
Our Jacksonville Bed Sore Claim Attorneys Are Here to Help Your Loved One
When a care facility is understaffed, the staff is poorly trained, or when the staff is apathetic, patient neglect can lead to the development of painful, potentially fatal, bed sores. If you have a loved one who has been a victim of nursing home neglect, Farah & Farah wants to be your ally in righting this horrible wrong. If you suspect patient neglect, please call our Jacksonville nursing home abuse lawyers for a free consultation, at 855-797-9899.