Bedsores / Pressure Ulcers
Bedsores are injuries to skin and underlying tissue that are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin that limits blood flow. Bedsores are also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers. Frequently, bedsores develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone. In nursing homes, residents who are confined to a wheelchair or bed are at the highest risk of bedsores due to their inability to change positions. Pressure sores often result from pressure combined with pulling on the skin, friction, and moisture, particularly over bony areas. For example, bedsores may form on the buttocks of wheelchair bound residents that spend an extended amount of time in the same position.
Preventing Nursing Home Bedsores
Bedsores are often preventable if proper care is taken by nursing home staff. Nursing homes must take meticulous care of residents that are at high risk for developing bedsores. The best way for nursing staff to prevent pressure sores is by keeping the skin clean, dry, and free of pressure. To prevent ulcers from forming, residents should be encouraged to move around the facility. Bed bound or wheelchair bound patients should be repositioned every few hours. A pressure-reducing mattress or bed may be needed for residents that have recurring or severe bedsores. Nursing homes should conduct regular physical examinations of residents at risk for pressure ulcers. If a resident develops pressure ulcer, nursing staff should quickly assess and intervene with treatment. After a bedsore has developed, treatment includes cleansing, removal of pressure from the affected area and application of special dressings. With prompt treatment, early-stage pressure sores will usually heal. However, if the bedsore does not heal after conservative treatment, sometimes surgery is needed.
Stages of Bedsores
Different stages are used to describe the extent of damage to the skin and tissue caused by bedsores.
- Stage 1 Bedsore: The ulcer appears in a defined area of redness in the skin. There may be red, blue or purple colors in the ulcer.
- Stage 2 Bedsore: There is loss of skin in the epidermis and/or dermis. The bedsore will appear as a blister or shallow crater. The sore expands deeper into the skin and looks like abrasion or crate. At this point fat may show in the sore but not muscle, tendon or bone.
- Stage 3 Bedsore: The ulcer results in damage to the subcutaneous tissue that extends down to the connective tissue surrounding the muscle, blood vessels and nerves. At this point the ulcer looks like a fairly deep hole in the skin and have black on the edges.
- Stage 4 Bedsore: There is full thickness loss of skin and damage to the muscle, bone or tendons beneath the skin. The ulcer will appear as a deep open wound. Bone and underlying connective tissues can be seen.
Some bedsores are graded “unstageable” because the stage cannot clearly be determined. This may happen when a thick layer of other tissue and pus covers the sore and the base of the sore cannot be viewed to determine the stage. In stages 3 and 4, serious complications such as osteomyelitis or sepsis can occur. For this reason, patients may be prescribed topical or oral antibiotic to treat infected pressure sores that aren’t responding to other treatment. In addition, bedsores that reach advanced stages may require surgical amputation to cut away dead tissue which helps with the healing process.
Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes for Bedsores
Bedsores are frequently preventable. The development and progression of bedsores in nursing home residents may indicate negligent care on the part of a nursing home. Federal and state laws require that nursing home provide care that ensures a resident’s well-being and safety. If a nursing home facility does not take all appropriate measures to prevent and treat bedsores, they can be held liable in court for resulting damages. Attorney Brent Wieand has a history getting justice for victims who are injured as a result of negligent nursing home care. If a loved one has developed bedsores call Brent Wieand at 267-443-8487 to investigate a lawsuit against the facility.