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Sacral Ulcers in Nursing Homes

sacral ulcers

Sacral ulcers are a painful and potentially dangerous type of skin lesion most often experienced by nursing home residents who are not receiving proper preventative care.  Left untreated, sacral ulcers can lead to serious skin decomposition, infection, sepsis and even death.

Sacral ulcers in nursing homes are preventable.  If you or a loved one have suffered a sacral ulcer due to nursing home neglect, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering and more.  Learn more about your rights and possible options by contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer

Call Nursing Home Abuse Center at 1-866-548-9636.

What Are Sacral Ulcers?

A sacral ulcer is a type of pressure injury (also called a decubitus ulcer or bedsore) caused by lengthy periods of direct pressure over a bony area of the body.

The sacral region of the body lies between the L5 segment of the lumbar spine and the coccyx (tailbone).  This area is comprised of five segments that are fused together to create a triangular shape.  The sacrum is also the back wall of the pelvis and joins at the hip bone (sacroiliac joints). 

Direct pressure such as that applied by the weight of a body lying prone in a nursing home bed interferes with the blood supply to the area.  Resulting skin decomposition creates a wound that at first may appear as a blistered area over the sacrum.  As the sacral ulcer worsens, it opens into a crater-like wound.

It is critical that sacral ulcers are treated immediately.

How to Recognize a Sacral Ulcer

Any nursing home resident who complains of lower back pain should be examined immediately to rule out a sacral ulcer.  Staff must monitor residents who are incapable of self-reporting pain regularly during bathing, clothing changes, toileting and other hygiene activities.

sacral ulcers

Seek medical attention for the resident if you notice any of the following in the sacral area:

  • Unusual changes in skin color, texture, or temperature
  • Pus-like draining
  • Skin that is tender to the touch
  • Swelling
  • Blistering or an open wound

What Are the Risks of a Sacral Ulcer?

Sacral ulcers can quickly become a serious medical concern.  Prompt medical treatment and ongoing preventative measures are necessary to limit the damage and prevent recurrence.  If left untreated, sacral ulcers can cause:

  • Cellulitis, a painful skin and connective tissue infection
  • Bone and joint infections such as septic arthritis or osteomyelitis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer caused by wounds that do not heal
  • Sepsis and septic shock, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition

Who is Most At Risk of Developing Sacral Ulcers in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents are more at risk of developing a sacral ulcer than the general public.  Within the nursing home, those patients most at risk include people with:

  • Immobility, particularly those who are confined to bed
  • Lack of sensory perception, as a loss of sensation can result in a lack of awareness of pain that would otherwise tell the resident to change positions
  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration, in which the body does not receive enough fluid and nutrients to maintain healthy skin and prevent tissue breakdown
  • Diabetes or a vascular disease, as reduced or interrupted blood flow increases the risk of tissue damage
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence, which can both create a moist atmosphere in which sacral ulcers flourish and introduce bacteria to the ulcer
  • Shearing forces, meaning that the skin is moving in two different directions

Nursing homes have a legal responsibility to provide a standard of care that ensures the safety and well-being of residents.  

How Can You Prevent Sacral Ulcers?

Rigorous, proactive preventative care is the key to preventing sacral ulcers in nursing homes.  Nursing home staff must have the training, time and tools necessary to carry out personal care and hygiene activities including:

  • Frequent repositioning to avoid constant pressure on one area of the body
  • Specialty beds or wheelchairs that tilt to facilitate more frequent pressure changes
  • Frequent cleansing of the area with a gentle soap and thorough pat dry, to remove moisture and bacteria
  • Regular clothing/bedding changes and laundering
  • Daily skin inspections
  • Adequate and nutritious meals
  • Suitable products for incontinence, with frequent changes and cleansing
  • Barrier cream, where fecal incontinence makes wound sanitation difficult
  • Sacral dressing, to protect the area and encourage healing

Caregiver vigilance is the most critical factor in preventing sacral ulcers in nursing homes.  If you suspect that nursing home abuse or neglect has resulted in a sacral ulcer, help is available.

Call 1-866-548-9636 for a free case consultation with a decubitus ulcer lawyer.  Find out what steps you can take to ensure the safety of your loved one.  Also, find out if compensation may be available.

How Much Compensation is Available for Sacral Ulcer Sufferers?

In cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, compensation can cover medical treatment, personal care services, and therapies.  It can also compensate the victim for pain and suffering. 

If you have lost a loved one due to nursing home neglect, there may be compensation to pay for medical expenses before death, funeral and burial costs, and the suffering experienced before their passing.

Nursing abuse lawyers have the experience and resources necessary to deal with nursing home neglect complaints.  A lawyer will pursue justice and compensation from all liable parties, including securing all available compensation from applicable insurers.  Where that is not possible, they will fight for your rights in court.

Call 1-866-548-9636 to learn more and schedule your free consultation.