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Sacral Ulcers in Nursing Homes

Sacral ulcers, also known as decubitis ulcers, are changes in the body’s blood supply as it flows to the dermal tissue. This in turn will cause that area of the skin to break down, forming red welts, blisters, and open sores. The sacrum is located at the base of the spine, in the tailbone. When this area has too much pressure, sacral ulcers will appear, resembling blisters and/or crater-like wounds.

Along with too much pressure applied to the skin, sacral ulcers can be caused by malnutrition or dehydration, staying in bed for too long without movement, urinary incontinence, and certain diseases such as diabetes or a vascular disease. Unfortunately, poor nursing home care is one of the leading causes of sacral ulcers in the elderly; they are a sign of nursing home neglect. Preventable strategies are often ignored or not adequately taught, resulting in an array of incidents that could have otherwise been prevented.

According to David R. Thomas MD, of St. Louis University, up to 23% of patients in long-term care nursing homes are afflicted with pressure ulcers, including sacral and other forms of ulcers. Additionally, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, up to 60% of nursing home residents are at risk for developing an ulcer. Although ulcers are one of the most preventable infections, a good majority of the causes of ulcers are not treated in time, resulting in more serious health conditions.

For example, bed sores left untreated for too long can eventually lead to ulcers, which could have easily been prevented by attentive nursing home staff members. Clean linens and clothing, proper hygiene, adequate nutrition, routine check-ups, regular monitoring, helping the patient move at regular intervals, and proper hydration will help prevent the majority of causes for ulcers in a nursing home setting. These issues are not only the normal care procedures for the majority of nursing homes in the nation, but are also state and federal mandated laws.

Yet, even the most basic care is often ignored and left undone, causing undue illnesses and infections in nursing home residents. The reasons for improper care vary from a nursing home being understaffed, staff members being overworked, too many residents in a single nursing home, and inadequate training.

Once a patient has developed a sacral ulcer, it needs to be treated immediately. If left untreated, the infected area can deteriorate the skin, tissues, and muscles. In addition, a sacral ulcer can cause extreme pain, sepsis, cancer, joint damage, and can lead to wrongful death.

Contact An Experienced Attorney

The nursing home abuse lawyers at the McIver Brown Law Firm have extensive knowledge regarding the legal procedures for nursing homes, and will fight to ensure that your loved one receives proper care, and that you and your family get the financial compensation that you deserve.

References:
http://ccjm.org/content/68/8/704.full.pdf
http://www.nmmra.org/providers/nursinghomes_ulcers.php
http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/sacrum-sacral-region

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