Treating Bed Sores Before They Develop

By Nursing Home Law Center

Treating Bed Sores

Taking the effort to prevent a bedsore from developing is significantly easier than managing one to allow it to heal completely. Bedsores (pressure sores; pressure ulcers; decubitus ulcers) are sores that can develop when skin and underlying tissue breaks down because of continuous pressure against the body’s bony areas. These areas include the hips, ankles, heels, toes, shoulder blades, shoulders, neck, elbows and hands. The prolonged pressure restricts significant blood flow necessary to feed soft tissue between bones and skin, which can eventually cause serious skin damage and the potential for developing an infection.

Individuals at Greatest Risk for Developing Bedsores

Typically, individuals with mobility challenges and those with substantial physical limitations caused by an illness or medical condition including paralysis have the greatest potential risk for developing a pressure sore. This is because the inability to move or reposition the body can cause significant sustained pressure against the skin where it comes in contact with a wheelchair or mattress.

Effective Strategies for Preventing Pressure Ulcers

The most effective strategies to prevent the development of a pressure sore involve modifying any risk factor that plays a part in creating the condition. This includes altering a poor diet to ensure the patient receives adequate nutrition through healthy foods that can improve overall wellness. Additionally, smoking cessation has been proven highly successful at enhancing blood flow circulation and vascular health, which are two important factors that lower the risk of decubitus ulcers.

The use of proper cushioning and routine body repositioning can alleviate pressure on common bedsore areas that include the shoulders, shoulder blades, back of the head, lower back (sacrum), heels and ankles. Repositioning the body every 15 minutes can both eliminate the potential of developing a sore and provide an ideal environment for an existing pressure sore to heal.

Why Prevention is so Important for Facilities Where Patients are at Risk for Developing Bed Sores

Without intervention, a quickly developing pressure sore can easily progress into a life-threatening condition that causes irreparable damage to the skin and health of the patient. Initially, a developing Stage I bedsore will appear reddened and non-blanched, meaning the area stays red even when you press and release your finger on the skin. When an initial bedsore appears, immediate proven efforts can minimize the potential of the skin breaking down. This can spare the patient serious complications, severe pain and a long-term process to heal a chronic wound.

A Stage I bedsore can develop from sustained pressure in as little as two hours. If left untreated, the sore can easily progress to Stage II where the skin breaks to form an open wound. At this stage, the skin must remain dry because excessive skin moisture in the area can allow the sore to grow larger and increase its potential for infection. Insufficient intervention at this point can cause an unwanted outcome as the decubitus ulcer progresses deeper from the surface, through soft-tissue and into muscles, tendons and bones.

At its most advanced stage, a decubitus ulcer typically becomes infected where it reaches the bone (osteomyelitis) and/or the blood stream (sepsis). At this level, the condition might be irreversible or require ongoing intravenous antibiotics.

If a Bedsore Develops

Nursing facilities, hospitals and at-home caregivers can take training to identify and treat a pressure sore at its earliest stage. This often involves the application of barrier creams to protect the skin and vigorous efforts to improve the health of the patient, including improving the patient’s diet, managing incontinence and routinely repositioning of the body at least one time every 90 minutes or less.

Nearly every progressing pressure sore is preventable and can be viewed as a sign of neglect or abuse. Because of that, many family members will hire a personal injury lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice and nursing home abuse cases. Nursing Home Law Center LLC at (800) 926-7565 have represented victims of mistreatment and have assisted them in obtaining financial compensation for their damages. These types of cases are handled on contingency to avoid the need of paying the law firm an upfront fee.

Related Information

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources

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