Sacral Ulcers in Nursing Homes
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 can receive compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Learn how to recognize sacral ulcers and what they can tell you about the care a nursing home resident is receiving.
Call 1-800-516-4783 to get nursing home abuse legal help.
What Are Sacral Ulcers?
A sacral ulcer is a type of pressure injury (also called a decubitus ulcer) caused by lengthy periods of direct pressure over a bony area of the body. Your sacrum is located at the base of your spine—otherwise known as your tailbone. 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.
The 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. Residents incapable of self-reporting pain should be monitored regularly during bathing, clothing changes, toileting, and other hygiene activities.
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
- 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 already 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 being pulled 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. If you suspect that a failure to uphold those standards is responsible for your or a loved one’s sacral ulcer, call 1-800-516-4783 to schedule a free consultation.
How Can You Prevent Sacral Ulcers?
Rigorous, proactive preventative care is the key to preventing sacral ulcers in nursing homes. Nursing home staff must be given the training, time, and tools 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 infrequently changed bed linens, inadequate personal care and hygiene, insufficient meals, or overworked, inattentive staff are causing or contributing to the worsening of a nursing home resident’s sacral ulcer; there is help available.
Call 1-800-516-4783 for your free case consultation, you will learn what steps you can take immediately to ensure the safety of the resident and discover what compensation is available.
How Much Compensation is Available for Sacral Ulcer Sufferers?
In cases of nursing home abuse or neglect, compensation can help pay for medical treatment, personal care services, therapies, pain and suffering, and more. Nursing abuse law firms are well-equipped to deal with nursing home neglect complaints in every state and will pursue justice and compensation from all liable parties.
An attorney will attempt to secure all available compensation from applicable insurers. Where that is not possible, they are prepared to fight for your rights in court and will exercise your right to a speedy trial, where possible.
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.
Call 1-800-516-4783 to book your free consultation.