Bed sores are caused when blood supply to the skin and underlying tissues becomes blocked, most often because of continued, long-term pressure on a specific area of the body. Also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, these seemingly small injuries can lead to life-threatening infections, sepsis, and even death if untreated.
Because many nursing home residents are confined to their bed or to a wheelchair, these patients face much higher risks of developing pressure ulcers – especially when nursing home staff fail to move and monitor them regularly. At Garcia & Artigliere, our nationally-recognized nursing home abuse team can help you hold the right parties accountable for a dangerous bed sore injury.
Call (800) 328-2630 to schedule a free case review and pursue justice for your loved one.
What Causes Bed Sores?
Bed sores can develop in any area where pressure is unrelieved for long periods of time, but they are most common in bony areas such as knees, ankles, and elbows. To prevent seniors from sustaining painful bed sore injuries, nursing home staff or caregivers must simply ensure that residents change positions regularly and have clean and comfortable bed linens.
When nursing home residents do not get the basic care and attention that they need, however, small pressure ulcers can become severe and require surgery. This is why physicians define bed sores and pressure ulcers as “never events”: In short, it is considered to be an entirely preventable injury that should never occur under the care of a skilled professional.
Here are some of the ways a caregiver can prevent bed sores:
- Place special cushions and mattresses under the patient to alleviate pressure
- Help the patient to stand or walk (when possible)
- Keep the patient hydrated and well-nourished
- Change the patient’s position once every two hours
- Adjust bed elevation for the patient
- Keep the patient’s skin clean and moisturized to reduce tearing risk
Key Stages of a Pressure Ulcer
In its earliest stages, a bed sore will look and feel like a minor rash, with some visible changes in pigmentation accompanied by an itching or burning sensation. If caught at this point, bed sores are relatively easy to treat by adjusting the patient and halting the pressure to the affected area. Once the sore becomes infected or exposes underlying tissue, however, surgery and weeks of antibiotics may be the only way to save the patient’s life. It can take up to 3 months to heal from a late-stage pressure sore.
The 4 main stages of a bed sore are as follows:
- Stage 1: The sore manifests as redness in the affected area and may resemble a rash. Some minor pain and itching may occur.
- Stage 2: The sore becomes an open wound or pus-filled blister as the pressure reaches the second layer of skin. Pain, swelling, and oozing are common symptoms at this stage.
- Stage 3: The sore advances from the second layer of the skin into the subcutaneous fat tissues beneath. The sore will resemble a crater and may show signs of infection, including odors, red edges, and pus.
- Stage 4: The sore exposes tendons, muscle, or bone as it reaches below the fat layer. The skin around the area will be black and oozing.
Dedicated to Protecting Senior Citizens
Individuals over the age of 60 are more vulnerable to pressure sores because their skin becomes fragile with age. That means nursing home professionals have a moral and legal imperative to correct any pressure ulcers as quickly as possible, protecting vulnerable senior residents from the serious complications that can follow. If your nursing home has failed to take appropriate action for a worsening bed sore, our legal team at Garcia & Artigliere can fight for you and your family.
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