Bedsores

Bedsores, as well as medical complications arising from neglected bedsore injuries in patients, are not an uncommon sight in nursing home across the country. This is an unfortunate statement as nursing homes are regarded as a place where an elderly patient ostensibly can receive the necessary care commensurate to their needs as senior citizens. Moreover, bedsores are generally a sign of neglect and in almost all cases, bedsore medical complications are completely preventable, if appropriate care is being provided by the nursing home staff.

The Causes of Bedsores

 Overwhelmingly, bedsores are caused by patient immobility, which is most commonly seen in elderly patients in nursing homes, as well as those hospital patients that are unable to move, or are non-ambulatory. In short, bedsores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, exhibit tissue damage beneath upper-epidermal layers in patients. This injury to the underlying tissue is a result of prolonged pressure on a particular area of the body, hence is often indicative of nursing home neglect. The most common locations where bedsore injuries appear in patients includes:

  • Bedsores frequently manifest on the patient’s hips, buttocks, lower back, or tailbone as part of constantly pressure from remaining seated or lying for prolonged periods of time
  • Bedsores also frequently manifest around the ankle, heel, and foot areas in patients, who sustain constant pressure upon these locations by way of failure to remove footwear or pressure due to remaining in a wheelchair device

Bedsores are ultimately indicative of a prolonged period of sedentary activity without shifting of the pressure upon irritated body tissues. However, bedsore injuries, especially those exhibiting exacerbated damages in later stages of bedsore injuries, are preventable when nursing home caregivers take the time to administer the necessary repositioning techniques. Furthermore in reasonably practicing nursing home environments, staff members are trained and instructed to perform tasks such as moving the patient around, ensuring dry bedding and clothing, checking on residents daily as well as reducing pressure to the bony areas of the body, which if followed will result in residents never developing lesions or skin abrasions comparable to bedsores of any kind.

Stages of Bedsores: Stage One (1) as an Early Warning Sign

 There are approximately five stages of bedsores, increasing in severity from stage one until the most severe forms of bedsores categorized as stage five. Typically stage one (1) bedsores present as more of a rash than anything featuring subtle visible changes in pigmentation, such as redness or darker skin tones where the pressure ulcer is beginning to develop. Often the patient will notice changes in the temperature of their skin in certain areas and the consistency of the tissue may have slightly changed from firm to almost a soggy feeling. A patient dealing with stage 1 bedsores will also likely due to the deterioration of issue and skin amidst ongoing pressure to the affected area, patients often complain of sensations of pain or itching when exhibiting stage one bedsores. Upon discover of a stage one (1) bedsore, it is important to speak with your family member’s caregiver as soon as possible about your concerns over failure to adhere to standard elderly healthcare protocol. Doing so will ensure that your family member receives the necessary treatment as well as the assistance that is now needed to prevent additional bedsores or more serious stages of bedsores.

 Serious Risks Are Associated with Bedsores of Any Stage

Bedsores progress rapidly without the appropriate care.  In addition to rapid progression, several other patient risk-factors appears to increase the probability that a bedsore infection will worsen more quickly, including:

  • Above all, the extent of immobility of the patient dictates the probability of enduring bedsores, however, certain disabilities or injuries cause definitively prolonged periods of involuntary immobility, as such these patients are at most risk
  • Patients exhibiting fecal or urinary incontinence may unintentionally worsen or contaminate existing bedsores
  • Patients with diminished mental or cognitive capacities will likely not report bedsore irritation, pain, or observe the developments of the medical ailment
  • Patients suffering from co-morbid conditions of malnutrition, obesity, clotting disorders, and other auto-immune deficiencies are also at higher risk for developing bedsores

If left untreated, the complications from bedsores can be devastating. Typical bedsore complications include: cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, gangrene, sepsis, bone and joint infection, amputation and even cancer of lymph nodes or skins cells. These complications or risks associated with bedsores are all the more reason to make sure a family member is not being neglected or mistreated while in a nursing home or facility.

Discovering Bedsores, Dealing with Nursing Home Facilities, and Legal Action Options

The development of bedsores in nursing home patients is almost certainly cause for alarm and further scrutiny. This standard of care involves monitoring the health of the individuals under their care as well as providing the necessary attention to prevent such injuries as bedsores. For a negligence claim to be successful, it’s important to gather as much documentation as possible to establish that a family member or patient’s injuries were the result of a breached duty of care. It also important to remember that nursing home neglect is different from nursing home abuse.  With nursing home abuse there must be an actual intent to harm. Nursing home neglect, on the other hand can take many forms, but often bedsores or pressure ulcers are a sign of neglect and negligence on the part of nursing home and its employees. Ultimately, however, legal action may be the best option to ensure the continued and appropriate nursing home care for the patient. Staff and nursing home facilities are required to provide a certain level of care for all their patients or residents.

Sources for Additional Information on Bedsores and Nursing Homes found below:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bedsores/basics/definition/con-20030848

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/pressure-sores-topic-overview

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/pressure-sores.printerview.all.html

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