Bed Sores in Nursing Homes
A developing bed sore is often an indicator of neglect or abuse in a nursing home or medical malpractice when it occurs in a hospital setting. A bed sore (pressure sore; pressure ulcer; decubitus ulcer) can quickly develop when continuous pressure on the patient’s skin is unrelieved. Without immediate attention, the wound can cause serious health issues including life-threatening infection.
Bed sores in nursing homes tend to develop in areas of the body where the skin covers bony prominences. These can include the heels, ankles, elbows, back, shoulders, and back of the head. Nursing home patients at greatest risk of developing a pressure sore are usually wheelchair-bound, sedentary in a bed or any patient with the inability to reposition their body without assistance.A Very Visible and Painful Sign of Nursing Home Negligence
Sadly, developing bedsores in nursing homes are all too common. Statistics maintained by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) indicate that 10 percent of all nursing home residents currently have a bedsore. This alarming problem has been prevalent in assisted living homes, hospitals and nursing facilities for decades. To make matters worse, nearly every bedsore is preventable. Pressure sores are often caused by the lack of improper medical care or attention by nursing home staff.
As a serious health concern, an identified bedsore needs immediate pressure relief and medical attention. It is simple to recognize a bedsore in its initial stage (Stage I), where the skin feels warm and hard to the touch. The reddening occurs to underlying soft tissue when body pressure restricts blood flow and oxygen. Skin tissue can be lost if the pressure is allowed to continue after approximately two hours. During Stage II, the advancing wound creates a shallow crater open to infection. At this point, proper medical attention can reverse the debilitating condition and allow the wound to heal nearly completely.
However, by Stage III, the top layers of skin are completely lost. Subcutaneous tissue just above the fascia suffers necrosis, causing cells to die quickly. During Stage IV, necrosis reaches below the fascia layers to expose muscle, bone and ligaments. The exposed area is highly susceptible to a variety of medical conditions including:
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Sepsis (blood infection)
- Cellulitis (connective tissue inflammation)
- Cancer (primarily squamous cell carcinoma)
- Gangrene caused by restricted blood supply
When a nursing home is poorly managed, the patient’s health often suffers greatly. In most situations, a developing decubitus ulcer is the result of medical staff providing less than the minimal medical standard of care. Various issues can contribute to an emergent pressure sore including:
- The patient is suffering from malnutrition and dehydration
- The patient has remained immobile for an extended period
- The patient has suffered skin damage due to unchanged soiled diapers or lying on wet
Assisted-living facilities and nursing homes are duty bound to provide high quality health care to every patient. This means the medical staff must develop, implement and enforce a prevention program to eliminate the potential of developing bedsores. Specific protocol to minimize the potential of any patient developing a pressure ulcer would involve:
- Daily monitoring of the patient’s skin from head to toe to detect any early signs of bedsores
- Routine body repositioning of every patient unable to turn without assistance at least one time every two hours around-the-clock
- Keeping the skin and clothing of every patient clean and dry
- Frequently changing the patient’s sheets to minimize spreading infection
- Supplying pressure-relieving pads, cushions and mattresses
- Immediate medical attention by highly trained, specialized personnel anytime a developing bedsore is identified
- Preventing healthy blood circulation through skin massage
Legal action is often necessary when families are told that their loved one has developed a bedsore at a nursing facility. This is because nearly all bedsores are preventable. Most pressure sores usually develop through neglect when the patient does not receive adequate care.
If your loved one is suffering from a facility-acquired bedsore, it is essential to speak with a competent nursing home abuse attorney who specializes in nursing home neglect cases involving bed sores. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (888) 424-5757 offers a complimentary consultation to discuss your legal rights and options for stopping the abuse now. Our attorneys can review your claim and provide aggressive options to resolve your case.
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