Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are common for the elderly and those who cannot get up and move around on their own. When pressure constantly sits on delicate skin, blood flow and oxygen depreciate, which makes the skin break down.
Eventually, the breakdown leads to painful ulcers. If the ulcers are not cared for quickly, they can turn into advanced stages of bedsores.
Staff at nursing homes and hospitals are required to move their immobile patients regularly throughout the day. This is the best way to prevent bed sores. However, nursing homes often house too many patients while not having adequate team counts; therefore, rotating patients rarely happens.
Bedsores come in fours stages. These sores range from minor to severe. The more serious the bedsore, the more likely it is that the patient could develop a life-threatening infection. And the closer the sore gets to stage three and four, the harder it is to manage or stop from progressing.
The Stage one bedsore is one that is just starting to form. This is the easiest to treat. The skin is not broken, but the sore will start looking reddish and even be warm to the touch. It could be painful as it slowly starts to progress into stage two. The skin around it could also be purple or ash if the patient has darker skin.
The stage two sore is an open wound. Now, the outer layer of the skin is slowly sloughing away and the dermis has become exposed. The sore itself is shallow and can be treated if taken care of promptly. Typically, the sore itself will be pink or reddish in color.
The stage three bedsore becomes much deeper. At this point, the patient has obviously not received any care for their wound. The skin loss now is serious and the patient’s fat cells are most likely showing from the sore. Soon the sore will deepen and the skin and tissues inside die. Eventually, they become yellow.
Stage four is by far the most severe type of bedsore. Now the tissue loss has extended into the muscle. Tendons may also be affected by the time the ulcer reaches stage four. Bone will start to show through the ulcer sore itself and necrosis might set in.
At this point, the risk of a life-threatening infection is much higher.
Bedsores can be treated quickly and have adequate time to heal, but only when they are caught in the early stages. Once they can progress, the treatments are more extensive.
Any time a patient does not receive proper care for their developing bedsores, it could be an issue of negligence. If it is decided that the nursing home staff acted negligently, and the patient has not received adequate care, then the nursing home could be held accountable for their actions.
If you have a loved one that is the victim of nursing home neglect, hold the appropriate parties responsible by contacting an advocate from Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP.