Nursing Home Residents and Bed Sores

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on May 19, 2017 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on February 24, 2022

patient sleeping in hospital bedBed sores, or pressure sores, are painful pressure ulcers that occur after prolonged periods of inactivity and are often a sign of neglect.

Unfortunately, bed sores occur regularly among nursing home residents who are neglected by inattentive staff members.

Although bed sores may start as a minor rash, failing to treat a person who has developed bed sores can cause severe pain and suffering for the individual.

What Causes Bed Sores?

Bed sores, also known as decubitus ulcers, are formed after an immobile person is left in a stationary position that exerts pressure onto a certain area of the body. The pressure limits blood flow to the skin, resulting in tissue damage.

This often occurs among nursing homes among residents who are unable to move or perform daily activities without the help of a staff member or caregiver.

These patients are those who are either bedridden or confined to a wheelchair and sustain constant pressure on a specific area from remaining seated or lying in a bed for long periods of time.

As a result, pressure ulcers most commonly form on:

  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Lower back
  • Tailbone
  • Ankle
  • Heel
  • Feet

If you notice a bed sore developing on your loved one, immediately inform his or her caregiver or member of the nursing home’s staff.

Which Residents are Most Susceptible to Bed Sores?

Bed sores can form and quickly intensify if a resident is not given appropriate care to treat the condition.

Residents who are most at-risk for pressure ulcers include:

  • Patients suffering from a disability or injury that causes indefinite periods of inactivity.
  • Patients who cannot control their body’s bowels or bladder and might be left in their own waste. This may unintentionally worsen or contaminate existing bed sores.
  • Patients with limited mental or cognitive capacities who are unlikely to report irritation, pain or developing effects of bed sores.
  • Patients suffering from malnutrition, obesity, blood clots and other auto-immune deficiencies.

The Stages of Bed Sores

There are four stages of bed sores that increase in severity from stage one through four.

  • Stage One: Typically begins as a rash that features slight visible changes in the skin’s pigmentation, such as redness or darker skin tones where the bed sore has started to develop.
  • Stage Two: The skin breaks open and wears away, forming a painful ulcer that causes the area to become sensitive. The sore expands further into the skin and can look like a scrape, blister or a shallow crater.
  • Stage Three: The sore becomes worse and forms into a small crater in the skin and may expose body fat.
  • Stage Four: The sore is very deep and reaches into muscle and bones, causing extensive damage. It might also cause damage to deeper tissues, tendons and joints.

Bed sores are serious injuries that require immediate medical treatment. If you believe your loved one has developed a bed sore after long periods of inactivity, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

What Could Happen if a Pressure Ulcer is Left Untreated?

Bed sores can result in deep tissue damage and life-threatening medical issues if left untreated, such as:

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

The serious risks bed sores pose to disabled or incapacitated nursing home residents are detrimental and should never be ignored or brushed over.

If your loved one is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair, you must ensure his or her caregiver is providing adequate attention and constantly checking for bed sores.

How to Prevent Bed Sores

Bed sore injuries are preventable if the caregiver provides the resident with the necessary attention that aligns with his or her needs.

A qualified staff member or caregiver should be trained to care for a resident who is left in a stationary position.

Nursing home staff members are trained to identify when a resident might be susceptible to developing bed sores and administer the proper repositioning techniques.

A well-trained staff member will also know to prevent bed sores by:

  • Moving the patient around
  • Making sure the resident’s body is dry
  • Regularly changing the resident’s bedding
  • Changing the resident’s clothing daily
  • Reducing pressure to the bony areas of a resident’s body

This will require a caregiver or nursing home staff member to perform daily check-ups on a resident to ensure the resident has received the care he or she needs.

If these steps are followed, the resident should never be at-risk of developing bed sores or other types of skin abrasions.

Contact Our Accomplished Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys

At PKSD, we strongly advocate for the proper treatment and care of elderly residents of nursing homes. People who are under the care of a caregiver should be provided adequate treatment that prevents injuries like bed sores from forming.

If your loved one has suffered from bed sores because his or her caregiver could not provide the attention your loved one needed, you may have the option to pursue legal action.

Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to determine if you are able to bring a claim and hold responsible those liable for your loved one’s pain. We will not charge you any upfront fees for our services, and will only require payment if we recover damages for your claim.

Call 877-877-2228 to speak with a Milwaukee nursing home neglect attorney.

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