Bedsores in Nursing Homes
Does your loved one who lives in a nursing home have bedsores? Have you complained to management but gotten no help to alleviate them? You need Chris Hudson Law Group to help you get justice and compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one has endured.
Bedsores are ulcers on the skin that occur when a person’s skin is under pressure for a long period of time. They are common in people in wheelchairs, hospital beds, or wearing a cast. They’re also called pressure sores, pressure injuries, or decubitus ulcers. They occur most often on bony parts of the body like ankles, hips, shoulders, and elbows.
A lack of care and attention from staff can result in a high prevalence of bedsores in nursing homes. At Chris Hudson Law Group, we specialize in nursing home abuse cases and know how to investigate and prosecute these kinds of cases.
Causes of Bedsores
Bedsores are common in nursing homes with below-average levels of care. If a bedridden person is not turned or repositioned regularly, they can develop bedsores on multiple parts of their body. Bedsores can be very painful or become infected if left untreated. They will heal with treatment but may not heal completely unless the pressure on the affected area is removed or mitigated.
Bedsores can range in size and severity from a simple swelling or redness of the skin to a deep tissue or bone injury. Serious pressure injuries can require surgery to correct.
Bedsores can develop quickly under certain conditions. Causes of bedsores include the following:
- Pressure. Pressure sores develop when the skin is under constant pressure, limiting blood flow. Without adequate blood flow providing nutrients to the skin, it starts to degrade and break down, allowing a sore to develop.
- Moisture. If skin is trapped against a surface, like a bed, for a long period of time and gets warm, it reacts by releasing sweat through the sweat glands to try and cool itself. If that sweat is not allowed to evaporate to cool the skin, the moisture is trapped between the skin and the surface, causing the skin to soften and break into a sore more easily.
- Shear. “Shear” happens when two surfaces move against each other in opposite directions. If a bedridden person is left in one position for too long, such as in a raised hospital bed, their skin slides slowly against the bed over time, causing friction and irritation. This friction can lead to tears and sores in the skin.
How to Recognize Bedsores
Symptoms of Bedsores
Symptoms of bedsores include:
- redness or swelling
- changes in skin texture or appearance
- draining or seeping pus-like fluid
- tender skin
- pain and discomfort at areas constantly under pressure
Medical Complications of Bedsores
There are several medical complications associated with bedsores, such as:
- Infection/Sepsis. If left untreated, bedsores can lead to blood infection, or sepsis.
- Bone injury. Untreated pressure injuries can burrow into muscle and bone, damaging tissue and cartilage and affecting joint function.
- Cancer. Bedsores left untreated in the long term can eventually lead to skin cancer.
High-Risk Conditions for Developing Bedsores
There are several groups at risk of developing bedsores, especially in nursing care facilities. The most at-risk group is bedridden people. If people left in bed are not turned or adjusted regularly, the skin under bony areas like ankles, sides of the head, and tailbones can quickly lose blood flow, leading to pressure injuries.
People with diabetes are also at high risk of developing bedsores. The lack of blood flow to certain areas of the body caused by diabetes can lead to pressure injuries.
People with spinal cord injuries or nerve damage that causes loss of feeling are also at risk, due to being unable to feel the pain and pressure associated with developing bedsores.
People with incontinence are at risk as well. Moisture in stool and urine trapped against the skin for long periods of time can soften the skin, and when combined with pressure, can lead to bedsores.
How to Treat Bedsores
Most bedsores can be treated like any other wound, but some pressure wounds require extra care, especially in older people or those with high-risk conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering from bedsores, make sure and talk to your doctor for advice on proper treatment.
Treatment for bedsores can include the following:
- Reducing pressure on the affected area. Move body weight away from the area of the sore by repositioning or adjusting the person’s body.
- Good wound care. Depending on the severity of the wound, clean and disinfect the area, and cover with a clean, sterile bandage or wrapping. Keep the wound area cool and dry.
- Pain prevention. Reduce inflammation of the affected area and help with pain management with an NSAID pain reliever.
- Maintaining nutrition. Bedsores heal more quickly if the skin is healthy and receiving good blood flow, so a healthy diet should be maintained to aid in healing.
- Preventing infection. An untreated bedsore can quickly lead to infection, so it’s important to keep the wound clean by disinfecting the area and changing bandages regularly.
- Surgical treatment. If a bedsore becomes too deep for standard treatment, surgery may be needed to close the wound with a skin or muscle graft and allow it to fully heal.
Prevention of Bedsores
How to prevent bedsores depends on the condition of the affected person. For bedridden people, prevention starts with adjusting the body every one to two hours. This allows adequate blood flow to the areas under pressure from constant contact with a bed.
For people in wheelchairs, adjusting and repositioning every 15 minutes is good practice, along with sitting up straight and reducing pressure points. A wheelchair pad or inflatable cushion can also help prevent pressure injuries.
For people that have been immobilized by spinal cord injuries or nerve damage and cannot feel pain or pressure in certain areas of the body, prevention can be as simple as looking for redness and swelling at the contact points.
In all cases, the skin should be kept dry and clean, and a healthy diet of nutritious foods to keep the skin healthy will help to prevent skin ulcers.
Contact Chris Hudson Law Group Today
If your loved one has developed bedsores due to substandard care at a nursing care facility, our nursing home abuse lawyers can help you address the problem and get compensation for pain and suffering.
We handle a wide variety of nursing home abuse cases, including those related to:
- cuts and bruises
- financial abuse
- physical abuse
- malnutrition and dehydration
- medication errors
- untreated infections
- injuries such as burns and concussions