Nursing Home Bedsores
If your loved one is a victim of neglect, we can help
Learning that your loved one has endured mistreatment, harm, neglect, or abuse while in the care of a nursing home is a painful discovery. Bedsores are an unfortunately common result of nursing home neglect.
When nursing homes fail to prevent bedsores and fail to properly treat them when they do occur, residents can suffer life-threatening complications, including infections and sepsis. Our nursing home neglect attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates hold them accountable.
What are bedsores?
Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are injuries that develop from someone staying in the same position too long, usually lying down. When someone doesn’t move for an extended period of time, pressure can become too much on the skin, cutting blood flow off to the affected area. This can lead to tissue damage and open wounds.
Friction and shear can also cause bedsores. As the skin is rubbed or pulled, it becomes damaged, and bedsores can form.
Where to look for bedsores
Bedsores can develop all over the body but typically form in areas where the skin is in direct contact with a surface for a prolonged period. In nursing homes, bedsores are common for residents who are not moved from their beds or wheelchairs. Bony areas of the body are particularly vulnerable, including:
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the head
If recognized, there are a few warning signs that can help detect bedsores before they become too serious. Common symptoms of bedsores include:
- Discolored skin
The four stages of bedsores
Stage 1: The skin will appear red and irritated. The area of the skin may feel warmer than other spots. It may also be slightly painful, burn, or itch.
Stage 2: During this stage, the skin will start to break open, and a blister or open sore will form. Fluid may leak from the wound, and the surrounding skin may be discolored.
Stage 3: As the sore develops, it will go deeper into other layers of the skin. The bedsore will appear like a crater on the surface of the skin. By now, the bedsore is very painful and highly vulnerable to infection and other complications.
Stage 4: This is the most severe stage of a bedsore. The sore has gone deep enough to affect other tissues, muscles, and bones. It will look like a deep and wide hole in the skin. At this stage, the bedsore is at extreme risk of becoming infected and requires immediate medical attention.
Complications of bedsores
Bedsores are harmful on their own, but when left untreated, they can worsen. Residents with bedsores are at risk for complications that range from infections to more life-threatening conditions. Some common complications of bedsores include:
- Sepsis: Bedsores have the potential to cause infections. When these infections spread to the bloodstream, it can lead to sepsis. Sepsis is a condition that forms from an extreme reaction of the immune system, resulting in severe inflammation throughout the body.
- Skin infections: Bedsores can become infected, causing the skin to become red, swollen, and painful.
- Bone and joint infections: Infections from bedsores can spread past the skin to the bones and joints, causing pain to the affected area and issues with mobility.
- Cellulitis: Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can develop around the site of a bedsore. It causes redness, warmth, and tenderness to the skin. Cellulitis can spread fast and can be life-threatening without antibiotics.
- Gangrene: Gangrene refers to the death of tissue. This can occur due to a lack of blood flow or an infection. The continuous pressure on the skin that causes bedsores can also lead to gangrene.
- Cancer: Untreated bedsores are at an increased risk of developing into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
How does neglect cause bedsores?
Bedsores can form due to nursing home neglect, particularly when facilities are understaffed. With understaffing, residents are not properly taken care of. For instance, when residents with limited mobility are not regularly repositioned or turned, the prolonged pressure on specific areas of the body can restrict blood flow, causing tissue damage. Poor hygiene can also contribute to the development of bedsores, as unclean skin is more likely to develop a bedsore.
When bedsores form, they must be properly diagnosed and treated to prevent complications. Nursing homes must conduct regular body checks to inspect residents’ skin for signs of bedsores. Failure to promptly treat a bedsore is a form of medical neglect that can have severe consequences.
Our attorneys hold nursing homes accountable for bedsores
Nursing homes should never let residents develop severe bedsores or let skin infections go untreated. When they fail in their responsibility, we hold them accountable. Contact the nursing home neglect attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates. We want to help your family because no one deserves to fall victim to acts of abuse and neglect. Contact us today for a free consultation.