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Bed Sore Treatment
Bed sores are a common and potentially devastating complication for victims of every age recovering from surgery, an injury, or illness. The skin breaks down, becoming infected when constantly contacting a surface like a wheelchair or a bed.
Pressure sores can cause significant pain, disability, and even death when left untreated. There are ways to prevent bed sores if caring for someone at home or in a care facility, and early detection is key to preventing further damage.
Did you or a loved one develop a preventable bed sore due to the negligence or mistreatment of others? The personal injury lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, are legal advocates for those harmed by others.
Contact our bedsore lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for additional information and answers to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.What Are Bed Sores?
Bed sores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers) are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure or friction. The most common areas for bed sores to develop are bony areas like the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone.
Pressure sores usually form over a bony area with little soft tissue to protect the skin. The lack of blood flow to these areas makes the skin and tissue more susceptible to damage.Developing Pressure Ulcers
According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, developing pressure injuries on healthy skin are a result of a complex interaction between the following:
- Intrinsic factors include age, nutrition, incontinence, and frailty.
- Extrinsic factors: These external factors can contribute to the development of pressure sores, such as friction, shear, moisture, and temperature.
- The environment: The environment in which a person is residing can also contribute to the development of pressure sores. Poor lighting, inadequate ventilation, and uncleanliness can lead to an increased risk of bed sores.
According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, clinical staging of pressure ulcers is determined by examining the depth and severity of tissue damage. There are six stages of pressure ulcers, with Stage I being the least severe and stage IV being the most severe.
- Stage I: The discolored skin is intact. Skin color appears with redness or discoloration. With immediate intervention by a competent healthcare provider, the wound can stop skin damage decline and heal completely within days. Diagnosing bed sores is more challenging for people with dark skin.
- Stage II: The skin is broken, but the wound does not go deeper than the dermis. The wound with a crater-like appearance may be moist or crusted over.
- Stage III: The darker skin is broken, and the wound extends to the subcutaneous tissue. The wound may tunnel under the skin and form a crater.
- Stage IV: The skin is completely broken, and the damage extends into muscle or bone. The possibly life-threatening open sore may tunnel under the skin, form a crater, or both. Necrotic (dead) tissue is present deep in the pressure sore.
- Unstageable: The depth of tissue damage in pressure injuries cannot be determined because the decubitus ulcer is covered with eschar (dead tissue).
- Deep Tissue Injury: The skin is intact, but there is deep damage to the subcutaneous tissue. These pressure injuries might appear bruised or discolored.
Constant pressure on the skin can compromise blood vessels to deliver oxygenated blood and essential nutrients, leading to severe skin damage. When the deeper layers of an open sore are exposed to the environment, an infection can occur quickly or over a prolonged period.
The infection spreads quickly from the bed sore site and can cause medical conditions and deadly health problems, including sepsis (blood infection) and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Signs of infection might involve:
- Redness or swelling around the wound site
- Increased pain around the wound site
- Pus or drainage from the wound
- Warmth around the wound site
Common risk factors of skin and joint infections include:
- Age: The elderly are at a higher risk for developing bed sores due to thinning skin and decreased circulation.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts pressure on the skin and can lead to bed sores.
- Poor nutrition: Malnutrition can cause the skin to break down, making it more susceptible to injury.
- Dehydration: Dehydration can cause the skin to dry out and crack, making it more susceptible to infection.
- Peripheral vascular disease: This condition causes poor blood circulation, leading to bed sores.
Treating pressure sores is effective in the early stages with a constant flow of blood once doctors and nurses relieve the pressure on the area. Bed sore treatment typically includes cleansing the wound, protecting it from further injury, and initiating the healing process.
- Cleansing the pressure injury: The wound should be cleaned with warm water, saline solution, and mild soap. It is essential to avoid using harsh cleaners or scrubbing the wound, as this can cause further damage. Keeping the area clean prevents further irritation.
- Protecting the pressure injury: The damaged skin's surface and exposed deep tissue should be protected from further damage using a moist dressing, foam pads, or bandage. Protection helps to keep the area clean and prevents further irritation.
- Promoting healing: The pressure injury should be kept moist to promote healing and protect against bodily fluids. Keep the sore covered using a hydrogel, a gel that forms a barrier over the wound. Hydrogels help to keep the pressure sore moist and protect it from infection.
If a pressure injury does develop, it is essential to treat them immediately to prevent further damage. In the early stages, a pressure-induced injury could heal in time.Prevent a Pressure Ulcer
Bed sores can be prevented by taking proper care of the skin. Those at risk for developing bed sores should check their skin regularly and reposition themselves every two hours.
People with specific medical conditions like limited mobility or spinal cord injury are most at risk of bed sores.
According to the American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline, the following are some tips on how to prevent pressure ulcers:
- Keep the skin clean and dry
- Use moisturizing skin care products if the skin is dry
- Avoid sitting or lying in the same position for long periods
- Treat infections caused by other conditions
- Change positions often if you must sit or lie down for long periods
- Exercise regularly to improve blood flow
- Eat a healthy diet to improve wound healing
- Quit smoking to improve blood circulation and wound healing
Wound care specialists, doctors, and nurses can prevent bed sores by following protocols, including:
- Assessing the risk: A trained medical care team must determine the individual's risk for developing pressure sores, including looking at factors such as age, nutrition, incontinence, and mobility.
- Repositioning: Those at risk for developing bed sores should be repositioned every two hours to prevent pressure injuries. Repositioning helps to relieve pressure on fragile skin in the areas most susceptible to injury.
- Protecting the skin: The vulnerable skin should be protected from friction and shear using moisturizers, barrier creams, and ointments.
- Providing support: Those at risk for developing bed sores should have support surfaces such as pressure-relieving mattresses and cushions.
- Monitoring the skin: The skin should be monitored for redness, blisters, and open wounds. If any of these are found, relieve pressure and treat the area immediately.
Have you developed a pressure sore at a nursing home and suspect someone's negligence caused it? Our experienced legal team can help you determine if you have a case and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.