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What Causes a Bedsore?
Pressure ulcers (bedsores, pressure sores, skin ulcers, decubitus ulcers, pressure wounds) are prevalent among individuals with limited mobility, especially in nursing homes. Although these wounds may seem minor initially, they can progress quickly, leading to severe pain and death.
Did your loved one develop a preventable bed sore while under the care of others? The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC represent nursing home residents and hospital patients neglected and abused by others in caregiving facilities.
Our legal team is committed to assisting you in seeking justice and compensation for the injuries caused by neglect or abuse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. You deserve the support and representation necessary to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.Understanding Pressure Ulcers
Pressure wounds develop when skin and underlying tissues are compressed between a bone and a hard surface, such as a mattress or a wheelchair. These bed sores are most commonly found on body areas where pressure against bones close to the skin restrict blood flow, such as the heels, hips, shoulder blades, and tailbone.
Without proper treatment, decubitus ulcers can quickly become severe and potentially deadly. It is crucial to understand the stages of pressure wound development.
There are four stages of skin ulcer development, ranging from mild skin irritation to deep tissue damage.
- Stage 1 involves intact skin showing redness, warmth, or swelling. This indicates that the skin has been compressed for an extended period but has not yet sustained any permanent damage.
- Stage 2: The skin breaks down, and a shallow, open wound forms. This wound may appear as a blister or shallow crater and can be painful.
- Stage 3 involves a deeper wound that extends into the underlying tissue. This type of wound may appear as a crater and can be excruciating. The increased risk of infection and other factors can lead to other complications at this stage.
- Stage 4: The wound has progressed to deep tissue damage, extending into muscle, bone, or joints. This type of wound can be deadly and requires immediate medical attention.
Understanding the stages of decubitus ulcer development can help you recognize the warning signs and take action before the wound becomes more severe. It is important to seek medical attention if you or a loved one develops a skin ulcer.Physical Complications of Decubitus Ulcers at Every Stage
Pressure sores can cause various physical complications, mainly if left untreated or if the wound progresses to a more advanced stage. The following are some complications that can occur at each stage of skin ulcer development.Stage 1:
- Skin redness, warmth, or swelling
- Discomfort or pain in the affected area
- Itching or burning sensations
- Risk of infection
- Open wound with shallow crater or blister
- Risk of infection and further tissue damage
- Pain or tenderness in the affected area
- Discharge or fluid from the wound
- Deep wound that extends into underlying tissue
- Risk of infection and systemic complications
- Pain or tenderness in the affected area
- Foul odor from the wound
- Deep tissue damage, including muscle, bone, or joint involvement
- Risk of serious infection and deadly complications
- Severe pain or tenderness in the affected area
- Loss of function or mobility in the affected area
Complications of decubitus ulcers can also affect overall health and wellbeing, particularly in older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions. Pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility can contribute to declining physical and mental health.
It is important to seek medical attention if you or a loved one develops a decubitus ulcer, particularly if the wound shows signs of infection or progresses to a more advanced stage. You can avoid this painful condition's physical and emotional complications by preventing and treating pressure sores.National Health Statistics on Decubitus Ulcers
Decubitus ulcers are a significant public health concern, particularly among older adults and individuals with limited mobility. The following are some statistics on decubitus ulcer prevalence, risk factors, and treatment:
- According to the United Spinal Association, approximately 2.5 million people in the United States are affected by pressure sores yearly. Pressure sores are most common in older adults, with approximately 70% of cases occurring in individuals over 70.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that pressure wounds add approximately $9.1 billion in additional healthcare costs annually.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of decubitus ulcers in hospitals ranges from 0.4% to 38.0%, depending on the patient population and hospital setting.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates pressure sores affect 1 in 17 hospital patients worldwide.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that up to 28% of individuals with spinal cord injuries will develop a skin ulcer.
- According to AARP, decubitus ulcers are the most common type of wound among nursing home residents, with a prevalence of up to 28%.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) estimates that pressure wounds occur in up to 15% of patients in home healthcare settings.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pressure ulcer prevention data reveals that specific medical devices, such as mattresses and cushions, can help reduce the risk of skin ulcer development by redistributing pressure and reducing friction and shear.
Other risk factors for decubitus ulcer development include poor nutrition, reduced mobility, and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.
These statistics highlight the significant impact of decubitus ulcers on public health and the importance of prevention and treatment. By understanding the risk factors and taking action to prevent decubitus ulcers, individuals can maintain healthy skin and reduce the risk factors of complications.Causes of Pressure Wounds
Prolonged pressure on the skin and underlying tissues is the primary cause of decubitus ulcers. When a body part remains in one position for an extended period, the body's weight can decrease blood flow to the area, leading to tissue damage.
Decreased blood flow can result in a lack of oxygen and other nutrients reaching the skin and tissues, leading to the breakdown of healthy tissue. In addition to prolonged pressure, friction and shear can contribute to developing pressure wounds.
Friction occurs when two surfaces rub against each other, while shear occurs when layers of tissue move in opposite directions.Essentials for Wound Healing
Poor nutrition and hydration can also increase the risk of skin ulcers. Adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals are essential for wound healing, and dehydration can lead to dry, fragile skin that is more susceptible to injury.
Other factors that can increase the risk of decubitus ulcers include delicate skin, reduced sensation or mobility, and certain medical conditions. Individuals with spinal cord injuries or who spend much time in a wheelchair or bed are at an increased risk for skin ulcers. Pressure points such as the shoulder blades, hips, and tailbone are common sites for skin ulcer development.Complications of Decubitus Ulcers
Pressure wounds can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening complications without proper treatment. Infection is a common complication, as the wound provides a breeding ground for bacteria. Sepsis, a potentially deadly condition, can occur when an infection spreads to the bloodstream.
Other life-threatening complications of pressure wounds include necrotizing fasciitis, a rare but deadly bacterial infection that destroys skin, fat, and muscle tissue. In some cases, bed sores can also lead to cancer development.
Recognizing the signs of infection and other complications and seeking medical attention promptly is essential. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, warmth, and pus or discharge from the wound.
In addition to the physical complications, pressure wounds can emotionally impact individuals and their caregivers. Pain, discomfort, and social isolation can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent pressure sores.Pressure Ulcer Prevention: How to Prevent Pressure Sores
Prevention is the key to avoiding the pain and complications of bed sores. You can take the following measures to reduce the risk of pressure wound development.
Repositioning and changing positions regularly is essential for reducing pressure on the skin and underlying tissues. In bed, you should reposition at least every two hours, while in a wheelchair, you should shift your weight every 15 to 30 minutes.The Role of Protein and Other Nutrients in Wound Healing
Proper nutrition and hydration are also crucial for wound healing and skin health. Adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals are essential for healthy tissue, while staying hydrated can help prevent dry, fragile skin.
Skin care and protection is another critical factor in pressure wound prevention. Keeping skin clean and dry can help reduce the risk of injury, while unique cushions and mattresses can help redistribute pressure and reduce friction and shear.Treating Pressure Ulcers
If you or a loved one develops a skin ulcer, prompt treatment is essential for preventing complications and promoting healing.
The following are some of the treatment options for decubitus ulcers.
Wound care and dressing changes are essential for promoting healing and preventing infection. It may involve topical ointments or other wound dressings, as well as regular cleaning and irrigation of the wound.Debridement and Other Medical Treatments
Debridement, or removing dead or damaged tissue, may be necessary for deeper wounds. In some cases, surgical debridement may be required.
Other medical treatments for pressure wounds include negative pressure wound therapy, which uses suction to promote healing, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which delivers high oxygen levels to the wound to stimulate healing.Legal Options to Hold Caregivers Accountable After Developing Preventable Bedsores
While prevention is the key to avoiding the pain and complications of pressure wounds, individuals and their caregivers may still face legal consequences if a decubitus ulcer develops and proper preventative measures were not taken.
The following are some legal options for holding caregivers accountable for preventable bedsores:Negligence Claims
Injured parties can file negligence claims against caregivers if they fail to provide adequate care and attention to individuals at risk of developing skin ulcers. Negligence can take many forms, such as failing to reposition a bedridden patient, address skin issues, or provide inadequate nutrition and hydration.Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims can be brought against healthcare providers, such as doctors or nurses, if they fail to provide the standard of care required for preventing and treating pressure ulcers. It can include misdiagnosis, improper wound care, or failure to adequately monitor and treat at-risk individuals.Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims can be brought against individuals or organizations responsible for providing care, such as nursing homes or home healthcare agencies, if they fail to provide adequate care and attention to individuals at risk of developing decubitus ulcers. This can include failure to provide proper wound care, inadequate staffing or training, or inadequate equipment and supplies.Wrongful Death Claims
In cases where a decubitus ulcer leads to a patient's death, wrongful death claims can be brought against caregivers, healthcare providers, or organizations responsible for providing care. These claims can seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the patient's death.
It is essential to consult with a qualified attorney if you or a loved one has suffered from a preventable decubitus ulcer. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and seek the compensation you deserve for the pain, suffering, and other damages resulting from the ulcer.Hire an Elder Abuse Lawyer to Resolve Your Nursing Home Bedsore Case
If you or a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility, holding them accountable for their actions is crucial. At Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, our personal injury lawyers can help you navigate the legal system and get the compensation you deserve.
Our legal team offers a free consultation and contingency fee basis, with a track record of recovering millions of dollars for our clients. We investigate each case to identify the responsible parties and help you seek justice.
Contact an attorney at (800) 926-7565 or use the contact form if you or a loved one has been harmed in a nursing home or assisted living facility.Resources: