What You Need to Know About Bedsores in Nursing Homes

elderly woman in nursing home bedNursing home residents who are incapacitated are at risk of developing bedsores, which are painful ulcers that form on the skin after long periods of inactivity.

With proper nursing care, most types of bedsores are preventable. Unfortunately, bedsores often develop among nursing home residents who are neglected by inattentive staff members and caregivers.

The Arnold Law Firm’s dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys in Sacramento understand the pain and suffering of residents who have developed bedsores as a result of neglect. We are ready to help you pursue legal action against a negligent nursing home facility or staff member.

What Causes Bedsores?

Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers, are injuries that occur from prolonged pressure on the skin. These sores most often develop on parts of the skin that cover bony areas of your body, such as the heel, ankle, hips and tailbone.

Nursing home residents who are at risk of developing bed sores include those who:

  • Suffer from an incapacitating disability or injury
  • Are dehydrated
  • Have limited mental capacity, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease who are unable to inform others of the development of bedsores on their body
  • Suffer from malnutrition, obesity, blood clots and other deficiencies
  • Have experienced rapid weight loss
  • Cannot control their bowels or bladder and are left in their own waste
  • Are unable to move certain limbs or their full body without assistance
  • Have dry or fragile skin
  • Have a disease that affects the blood flow, like diabetes or vascular disease

Bedsores often develop quickly if a patient is left in one position for too long. This poses a serious risk to nursing home residents who are bedridden and not provided appropriate care to treat the condition.

What are the Stages of Bedsores?

The severity of a bedsore can range from mild red skin to permanent tissue damage that extends into the muscle and bone. There are four stages used to describe the severity of a bedsore:

Stage One

The affected area of the skin is painful and sensitive to touch, but has not formed into an open wound. The bedsore may feel warm and firmer or softer than the area of skin surrounding it.

Stage Two

The affected area of skin breaks open and forms a painful and tender ulcer after wearing away. The sore expands into deeper areas of the skin and may look like a scrape or a shallow crater in the skin. During this stage, the bedsore may appear as a blister and be filled with clear fluid. The skin may be damaged beyond repair or may die.

Stage Three

The bedsore worsens and extends into the tissue beneath the skin to form a small crater. The sore may expose some level fat, but does not yet reveal muscle, tendon or bone.

Stage Four

This is the most severe stage of a bedsore. The affected area has formed into a deep sore that reaches into muscle and bone and can cause extensive damage to deeper tissues, tendons and joints.

If a nursing home resident’s bedsore reaches stages three and four, it can lead to serious complications, such as infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) or blood (sepsis). However, due to the significant tissue damage that will likely occur during advanced stages, the nursing home resident may experience little or no pain.

For this reason, it is imperative that nursing home staff regularly check on residents who are susceptible to developing bedsores. The resident’s position should be adjusted regularly to prevent these injuries from occurring.

What Happens When a Bedsore is Left Untreated?

Bedsores that are left untreated can lead to severe consequences for a nursing home resident. This includes deep tissue damage and life-threatening medical issues, such as:

  • Gangrene
  • Bone and joint infection
  • Amputation
  • Cancer of the lymph nodes or skin cells
  • Sepsis
  • Cellulitis
  • Flesh-eating bacteria

Untreated bed sores are often a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you notice a bedsore forming, you should immediate notify a member of the nursing home’s staff or a medical professional about your loved one’s condition.

How Can Bedsores Be Prevented?

Although bed sores are common among nursing home residents, these injuries are preventable if residents are provided with adequate care. A well trained nursing home staff member will know how to prevent bedsores by:

  • Adjusting the resident’s position in a wheel chair every 15 to 30 minutes and at least every two hours in bed
  • Making sure the resident’s body is dry
  • Reducing pressure to the bony areas of the resident’s body
  • Changing the resident’s clothing on a daily basis
  • Regularly changing the resident’s bedding
  • Keeping the resident hydrated, well-fed and nourished
  • Keeping up with the resident’s hygiene, such as bathing

Nursing home staff members and caregivers should perform multiple daily check-ups on residents to ensure they receive the care needed to prevent bedsores from developing.

Experienced Legal Help for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse

If your elderly loved one has developed bedsores while residing at a nursing home, do not hesitate to contact our experienced Sacramento personal injury attorneys for a free, no obligation consultation. We will help you determine if you have a claim that entitles legal action.

Complete our Free Case Evaluation form to get started today.