Nursing home bedsores, also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers, are caused by neglect. As set forth in an authoritative medical treatise, “pressure sores are graphic, ugly smelly evidence of a health care providers’ failure to take good enough care of the elderly.”
Pressure ulcers are caused by a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the skin, resulting from continuous pressure on a particular area of the body. They usually develop on areas with prominent bones beneath thin layers of skin, such as the coccyx, sacrum, lower back, and heels. The severity can range greatly, from mild bedsores appearing as just minor skin reddening, to severe bedsores appearing as deep wounds exposing muscle and bone.
Bedsores are very painful and uncomfortable, and your loved one should not have to suffer through them. Thus, if you believe an elderly loved one is suffering from a pressure ulcer, contact San Diego elder abuse attorney Joel Bryant today. You may have a case for nursing home neglect.
Bedsores or pressure ulcers are easily avoidable if the elder is cared for properly. They are caused by the pressure of the elder’s body pushing against the bed, wheelchair, or other furniture they are sitting or lying on for long periods of time (generally, two hours or more). Unfortunately, many elders are susceptible to pressure ulcers, as a majority of nursing home patients have severe physical limitations that inhibit them from moving around easily.
The primary thing that a nursing home care provider needs to do to keep an elder from getting a bedsore is rotate them to a different position about every two hours. In doing so, the area under pressure changes regularly, allowing for better blood flow to each region of the body and greatly reducing the chances of a pressure sore from developing.
No matter the severity, any development of a bedsore is a sure sign of neglect that should be addressed immediately. Nursing homes can even take steps to further reduce the risk for their most vulnerable patients developing bedsores by simply providing a specialty pressure relieving mattress or pad for the elder to lie or sit on. By doing so, pressure between the elder’s body and the bed, wheelchair, or furniture will be significantly reduced, lowering their risk of developing these painful and life-threatening sores.
Bedsores will often appear in areas where the elder’s body weight is putting the most pressure against whatever it is that they are sitting or lying on for long time. The most common places a bedsore will form are:
Here are symptoms that indicate the formation of a bedsore, if occurring in a high-pressure area such as the ones listed above:
When pressure from body weight is applied to an area of an elder’s skin for just two hours, blood flow can be reduced significantly, thereby cutting off oxygen to that area of the skin and causing the elder’s skin to die. When this occurs, deeper tissue begins to die if left untreated, which can lead to very severe pressure ulcers that result in exposed muscle and even bone. When the pressure sore grows, there is a higher risk of developing sepsis, a life-threatening bacterial infection in the bloodstream.
Bedsores can become a life-threatening condition if left untreated. This is particularly true when the pressure ulcer becomes infected and the resident develops sepsis. This is why it is crucial to contact an experienced, trusted California bedsore attorney as soon as you discover that your loved one is suffering from bedsores.
The four stages of pressure ulcers are progressively more serious. Each stage can quickly turn into the next if left untreated, so it is important to be able to recognize the signs, as described above, and quickly get medical attention for your loved one. The following discusses each of the stages in more detail:
Stage One: This is the least dangerous stage, but it can quickly become deadly if proper care is not immediately taken. Stage one can best be recognized by the following:
If recognized quickly, stage one treatment is very simple, as that specific area simply needs pressure relief, and the skin can be washed gently with soap and water. However, even in stage one, it is always best to consult with a medical professional to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Stage Two: This stage is much more painful and severe than stage one, as it is defined by the skin breaking open. Signs of stage two include:
In each of these scenarios, the skin becomes very painful to the touch. Stage two is often treated by soaking the damaged skin in a saline solution. Unfortunately, the skin has already suffered irreversible damage, as the tissue has been starved of blood flow and other nutrients, and has begun to die off. This skin is removed to allow the ulcer to be exposed to oxygen and heal itself. However, it can take weeks for the exposed ulcer to be sealed by the skin, as it takes longer for an elder’s body to repair itself.
Stage 3: This stage is defined by a much deeper wound than stage two; however, there appears to be no bone, tendon, or muscle involvement with the wound itself. Signs of stage three include:
Stage three pressure ulcers are very difficult to treat, especially if they occur somewhere that normally would be hard to keep pressure off of, such as the back. At this stage, bedsores can be treated with methods of debriding (removing the dead tissue to let the wound heal) that require surgery. After surgery, the wound is then covered to reduce the risk of infection.
Stage Four: This stage is potentially fatal, as it leaves the elder at high risk of getting a life-threatening sepsis infection. The sore is extremely deep compared to the other stages, and involves muscle, bone, tendons, and other connective tissues. Signs of stage four bedsores include:
At this stage, the wounds almost always require surgery, and even then do not always heal, leaving the elder vulnerable to deadly infections.
With stage three and four bedsores, sepsis can enter an elder’s bloodstream if the sore is left untreated or improperly treated. Sepsis is a clear sign of neglect in nursing homes, as it is an indication that an injury has persisted for a long enough time to become life-threatening.
Bedsores and pressure ulcers can quickly become fatal if improperly treated, if a sepsis infection develops and becomes fatal. When a death occurs as a result of such neglect and mistreatment, it can be deemed a wrongful death, which gives the deceased’s family a right to compensation.
Contact a California nursing home abuse lawyer at Attorney Bryant’s office as soon as possible if one of your friends or family has developed pressure ulcers. Mr. Bryant and his legal team hold nursing homes accountable and will take your case to trial if necessary. Call today for a free case consultation. By taking action today, you could prevent further abuse by the wrongdoers, and hold them accountable once and for all.
“Joel and his team were the help I needed to approach the nursing home that didn’t take good care of my grandmother. With Joel’s help, my grandmother was fairly compensated for the injuries she suffered as a result of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse.”Andrea C.
“When one of the most tragic events happened in my life, Joel Bryant and Jason Julius were there for me when I needed someone the most. They both were very professional, honest, compassionate, and supportive."Brent R.
“Joel was amazingly accessible, by phone, email and often, in person, and still is. He is a professional with an understanding heart, and a sense of humor. I still feel very fortunate to have had him on my side.”Michelle B.