Bed Sores Don’t Kill - Complications do!

By Nursing Home Law Center

Etiology of Pressure Sores

Bed sores most often begin as small areas of softened tissue that might be painful to touch. As they develop, they become more painful. An open wound begins to form that resembles a shallow crater, which will only get deeper as the stages progress. The further along a bed sore has progressed, the more difficult it is to treat with medications and non-invasive techniques.

Different Types of Fatal Complications

As a bed sore develops, the risk of further complications due to infection increases dramatically. There are many different complications that can occur, and many of them can be fatal.

Amputation Infections

Amputation of a limb due to severe infection caused by bed sores pose a threat of its own. There have been cases where an individual had to undergo amputation surgery due to a severe progressive bed sore, after which he developed a bacterial infection, which led to his death. Sepsis is a major contributor to fatal cases. The infection incurred from the bed sores or the complication flow into the blood, and spread very quickly throughout the body. A blood infection will cause organ failure very quickly, which is fatal.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

In bed sores, necrotizing fasciitis may also occur. This is what slowly eats away at the tissue surrounding the affected area. This infection though rare works very quickly and can destroy muscle tissue in a matter of hours. If necrotizing fasciitis is not treated immediately it can lead to death of the patient within 24 hours.


Another type of infection that can occur with progressive bed sores that have not been treated and kept clean, is gas gangrene otherwise known as myonecrosis. This infection spreads very rapidly, and can destroy tissue within minutes. The infectious bacteria that are released with this infection are highly toxic and destroy muscle tissue in the body. This rapid destruction of muscle tissue can lead to system and organ failure of the patient’s body, ultimately leading to death.

Bone Infections

The infection becomes so deeply burrowed into your body that it can reach the inside of your bone and can attack the cartilage in the surrounding areas as well. The degradation of cartilage will usually affect the joint areas, decreasing mobility and may possibly even lead to an amputation of the limb. Bone infections are very dangerous if left untreated, as they can eat away at a bone for many years, and eventually damage the bone to such an extent that it no longer functions properly. Infections in the bone and joint areas can move around the body easily, causing a full body infection, which can be fatal.

Bed sores themselves are not fatal. It is the negligence and delayed treatment of bed sores that lead to serious infections, which in turn cause the ultimate death of a patient. Bed sores can be treated if found early enough, and it is unfortunate that something as preventable and treatable as a bed sore can lead to fatal complications. If someone has developed bed sores, they are at a severe risk of developing a life threatening infection, and if treated right away, the patient can be saved.

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