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Mississippi Nursing Home Patients More Prone to Bed Sores
By Nursing Home Law Center
As of January 2015, Mississippi and New Jersey tied with the fifth highest rate of facility-acquired bedsores in nursing home environments in the U.S. In an announcement by the federal government, the rating system based on self-reporting and unverified data has been changed in the hope of minimizing patient harm caused by preventable bedsores and other dangerous facility-acquired conditions.
The new rating system is designed to collect staffing data at nursing facilities and provide information to federal officials with much needed answers concerning problems in the healthcare industry. The new data collection method far surpasses the old system of just verifying the accuracy of the nursing home staff. In time, consumers will be allowed to view a variety of statistics at the nursing facility including the rate and reasons for staff turnover.
Advocates for nursing home residents said the improvements in collecting reports of nursing home patients and facilities are crucial to minimize the potential of serious injury. This is because life-threatening bedsores are a common occurrence in Mississippi nursing environments.
Why Changes are Needed
Even though bedsores (decubitus ulcers; pressure ulcer; pressure sores) occur every day in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals the condition is usually preventable. Pressure sores can easily develop any time the patient lies down or sits without moving for an extended length of time. The lack of mobility causes significant pressure on specific body parts and constricts much-needed blood flow to skin and tissue. The most common areas on the body where bedsores develop include the elbows, shoulders, back of the head, hips, spinal column, buttocks, tailbone, ankles or heels.
During the initial stage (Stage I) of a developing bedsore, maroon, reddish or purple colored tissue may appear at a specific bony site on the patient’s body. Usually, the skin is mushy or firm to the touch or displays blisters. By relieving the restricted blood flow, most of the damage at Stage I can heal completely. Without assistance, the damage to the patient’s tissue can escalate to Stage II where immediate medical care is required.
After the sore has developed in the initial stage, the pressure can be relieved continuously by utilizing pressure-relieving betting, special pillows, foam cushions, sheepskin or other products effective at alleviating pressure. In addition, the patient must be repositioned at least one time every two hours to alleviate the pressure created by a Stage I pressure sore.
If the wound is allowed to progress to Stage II, a small crater will appear at the site, exposing fatty deposits in underlying tissue. At this stage, the wound must be treated with effective medications, bandages and solutions to avoid any further progression. During this stage, the medical staff must develop an effective wound healing plan to ensure the patient can fully recover.
If allowed to progress into an advanced stage (Stage III), the pressure sore begins to form an ulcer. The ulcerated tissue creates a deep crater at the site, exposing muscle below. If not properly treated, a life threatening infection can develop, placing the patient in grave danger. Usually, any treatment for an advancing stage decubitus ulcer requires specialized medical care by professional teams dedicated to treating severe cases.
When the progressive bedsore advances to Stage IV, it has likely become infected, leaving the patient at risk of developing sepsis (blood infection and/or osteomyelitis (bone infection). The wound likely exposes bone and deep muscle tissue, and requires extensive debridement where dead tissue is cut away from the sore.
Advancing bedsores are signs of neglect at the nursing facility. It is important for family members and friends to take legal action before any Stage I pressure sore is allowed to advance to a life threatening condition. A personal injury attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect can file a claim or suit, and send a team of medical professionals to the room of the nursing home patient to start the healing process.