Bed Sores and Pressure Sores

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcer,s and pressure ulcers, are one of the many signs of nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, or medical malpractice in a hospital. Bedsores are caused when there is unrelieved pressure to the skin and can cause serious health problems like infections and other life-threatening injuries. They occur most frequently to areas of the body where bone and skin are very close in contact, such as the hips, back, elbow, ankles, and heels. Nursing home residents and people staying at a hospital are at high risk for bedsores because they often times remain sedentary in a bed or wheelchair.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 1 out of 10 residents in nursing homes currently suffer from bedsores. Although this is alarming to many, this isn’t a new problem. For several decades, bedsores have been a prevalent problem in nursing homes throughout the United States. In many instances, bedsores are caused primarily from lack of attention and improper medical care in nursing homes. Bedsores are serious health concerns and once identified they need to be treated immediately. If a resident enters a nursing home with bedsores, it’s the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure the sores don’t get worse. Unfortunately, a good majority of residents who enter facility with bedsores don’t get the kind of quality medical attention needed. As a result, their bedsores increase and move on into the later stages of bedsores, which causes a whole new host of medical problems.  

The medical malpractice lawyers at McIver Brown Law Firm are experts in bedsore cases and can help you and your loved one get the justice and financial compensation you deserve. Fill out the contact form on the right side of this page for a free consultation or call toll free at 1-800-516-4783.

Of course it is best to prevent bedsores before they start. Too often, however, bedsores are already at an advanced stage before being noticed, which in turn requires long and difficult treatments. It is said that the best treatment for a bedsore is prevention.

Tips for Bedsore Prevention:

In order to help prevent bedsores, a number of activities can be done to ensure the best possible chances. Change positions regularly, every 15 minutes if you are in a wheelchair, and at least every two hours if you are in a bed. It also helps to avoid laying directly on your hip bones. Instead, try to lay at a 30 degree angle to reduce pressure to the hips. Avoid laying with a raised head of more than 30 degrees, as this encourages the body to slip down and raises the risk of friction injuries. Try using a pressure reducing mattress if you must remain in a bed every day.

Inspect skin daily. Inspecting the skin is a great prevention tool to incorporate into your daily routine. Also keep skin clean and dry. If you have bandages, it’s imperative to make sure they are changed daily. If you notice any skin damage, foul smell, infections, or tenderness, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Pay close attention to nutrition. Malnutrition can lead to bedsores as well as other diseases and illnesses. It is essential to get enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. Consult a dietitian to help come up with an eating plan that appeals to your food preferences while supplying the necessary nutrients.

Try to exercise every day. Exercising increases blood flow throughout the body, as well as promotes a positive mood and socialization; all three are important while in a nursing home. You should consult with a physical therapist for an exercise program that is most beneficial to you.

Stages of Bedsores

Per the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, bedsores fall into four different stages, consisting of the following:

1) Stage 1

Stage 1 is the beginning stage of bedsores, and typically is associated with the following:

  • The skin is still intact during Stage 1, but will appear red on people with a fair complexion.
  • The skin area around the bedsore will not blanch when touched.
  • People with a dark complexion may no notice skin color change at all, while others may notice a bluish color.
  • The affected is usually painful and warm to the touch

2) Stage 2

Stage 2 is when the bedsore becomes an open wound, and consists of the following:

  • The bedsore may have a crater-type appearance and the areas of fat around the infected may be exposed.
  • The bedsore may appear pinkish in color and look like a fluid-filled blister.

3) Stage 3

When bedsores reach the 3rd stage, they are now considered deep wounds, and consist of the following:

  • The pressure sore may appear to look like a crater, with or without yellow-colored dead tissue attached (known as slough).
  • The damage goes beyond the infected areas and into healthy skin layers
  • The open skin may show fat around the infected area.

4) Stage 4

Stage 4 is the final and most advanced stage of bedsores, consisting of the following:

  • The wound has become so damaged that bones, tendons, and muscles may be exposed.
  • The bottom part of the pressure sore may show slough and dry, dead tissue.

Common Areas to Monitor for Bedsores

Depending upon the circumstances, pressure sores will manifest in different areas of the body. For example, a person who is confined to a wheelchair will have different areas of the body affected as opposed to someone who is confined to a bed.

Residents in Wheelchairs:

  • The buttocks area and/or the tailbone
  • The back both the legs and arms, in the areas that these body parts rest for long periods of time against the wheelchair.
  • The spine and/or the shoulder blades
  • Residents Confined to Beds:
  • Both sides and the back of the head
  • The outside areas of the ears, specifically on the rims
  • Shoulders and shoulder blades
  • Lower back and hips
  • Knees, heels, and ankles

Most pressure sores are caused by friction, shear, and sustained pressure. Residents, especially those confined to a wheelchair and bed should be inspected regularly even if their positions are moved frequently.

Medical Complications as a Result of Bedsores

As aforementioned, bedsores can lead to an array of other medical conditions if not monitored and treated in the early stages:

  • Cancer: Chronic pressure sores can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of destructive type of cancer that almost always requires surgery.
  • Joint/Bone Infections: Bone and joint infections develop after burying themselves deep into pressure sores. Also known as infectious or septic arthritis, these types of infections can not only damage cartilage and tissues, but can also severely restrict joint functions.
  • Sepsis: Sepsis is defined as a bacterial infection of the bloodstream or body tissues. Sepsis can occur when bacteria enters into the victim’s bloodstream via the open pressure sores. Once this happens, bacteria can quickly spread throughout the body, resulting in life-threatening organ failure and other issues.
  • Cellulitis: Cellulitis, an inflammation of connective tissues, can also infect victims of bedsores. If cellulitis occurs, victims may develop meningitis, which affects the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain.

Bed Sore Treatment

There are a few ways to treat bedsores which will depend upon the level of the wounds. For Stage I pressure sores, a combination of antibiotics and cleaning solutions are usually used. Victims should also be repositioned regularly. Supportive aids should always be available, such as specialized cushions, pillows, and mattresses.

For the advanced stages, victims may need to undergo surgery via mechanical, autolytic, or enzymatic debridement in order to successfully remove the damaged tissues. Afterwards, cleansing and bandaging the wounds is extremely imperative and must be done regularly. Pain medication and antibiotics are typically described as well, per the Mayo Clinic.

Along with pain medication and antibiotics, victims are encouraged to eat a balanced, healthy diet as nutrition and hydration will help the healing process. In addition, muscle relaxants may be prescribed as some victims experience muscle spasms.

Getting Legal Help

Keep in mind that if you or your loved one has suffered from pressure sores because of the negligence of a nursing home, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help you. At McIver Brown law firm, our dedicated team of award-winning nursing home abuse lawyers have the knowledge and experience of nursing home abuse laws in order to help you get the justice that you deserve. Give us a call today for a no-obligation consultation.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bedsores/DS00570