How a Nursing Home Turn Schedule Affects Bedsores

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on June 15, 2020 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 25, 2024

elderly woman in wheelchairElderly residents who are bedridden and dealing with other underlying health conditions are among the most susceptible to bedsores, especially if their nursing home is not providing an acceptable standard of care.

PKSD discusses why nursing home turn schedules and daily care play a critical role in the prevention of these pressure ulcers.

If you believe your loved one sustained bedsores due to negligent care in his or her nursing home, we encourage you to contact our firm for legal help as soon as possible. Our firm is committed to protecting their legal rights as well as their health.

There are no upfront fees to retain our services. We take nursing home neglect cases on contingency, so we do not get paid unless we first achieve a recovery on your behalf.

How Often Do Nursing Home Residents Need to Be Turned?

There has been a lot of debate over the years regarding how often a wheelchair-confined or bedridden patient needs to be turned or repositioned to prevent a bed ulcer – also called a bedsore or pressure ulcer. According to other medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, caregivers should reposition or shift a patient who is bedridden or wheelchair-bound at least once every two hours.

Why Turning or Shifting a Patient Helps to Prevent Bedsores

According to Johns Hopkins, bedsores can develop in as little as two to three hours. This is because the skin of an elderly person is thinner and more fragile. The pressure of being bedridden or wheelchair-bound reduces blood flow to the pressure areas, making the skin there more susceptible to developing a bedsore.

In addition to pressure, there are other factors that increase the risk for developing bed ulcers, such as increased friction, which can occur simply by lying on or rubbing against rumpled sheets or rough bedding. Another type of friction, called shear, can occur when two surfaces move in opposite directions. For example, when a patient is sitting up in bed and slides down, the body may move, but the skin may not. This causes a stretching kind of pressure that can lead to a pressure sore on skin that is already thin and fragile.

However, in addition to regularly shifting or repositioning an immobile nursing home resident, there other steps that can help to reduce the risk of a pressure sore from developing, such as:

  • Maintaining a patient’s hygiene so that skin is clean and dry – Immobile residents who are left to sit in urine or stool are especially at risk for a bed ulcer.
  • Protecting a resident’s skin – Applying appropriate moisturizers, changing soiled clothes, and making sure bed sheets are clean and regularly smoothed can help to reduce irritation to the skin.
  • Providing proper nutrition and fluid intake – Getting proper nutrition and staying hydrated helps to keep skin healthier as a patient ages.
  • Inspecting a resident’s skin while bathing – Checking for early signs of a bedsore each time a resident is bathed can help caregivers reduce the risk of a bed ulcer developing into a more serious, life-threatening wound.

You can also talk to your loved one’s doctor to see if there is a special cushion or mattress that may help to further alleviate pressure against the skin.

Can a Bedsore Lead to a Fatal Injury?

The short answer is yes. Elderly nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to bedsores because their skin is thinner, less elastic and more fragile. When you combine that fact with nursing home neglect or other underlying medical issues, proper care management is especially critical to the prevention of bedsores. 

As bedsores develop and worsen, they can become more dangerous and may even become life-threatening if left untreated. There are four stages of bedsores:

  • Stage I: The initial onset of a bedsore may appear as persistent patch of red skin that feels warm or sponge-like and is painful to touch. On darker-skinned patients, the sore may initially be darker with a bluish or ashen cast. Often these early signs of a bed ulcer may go away on their own when pressure is relieved.
  • Stage II: Even if a pressure ulcer becomes a blister or open sore, it can still heal fairly quickly if caregivers relieve the pressure and provide prompt treatment.
  • Stage III: At this stage, the wound of a pressure sore is deeper, more open and crater-like. These wounds are also more painful, harder to treat, take longer to heal and are more susceptible to infection.
  • Stage IV: This is the most dangerous stage, because the wounds can become life-threatening. Patients lose a significant amount of skin and, because the wound goes much deeper, they may also suffer serious damage to the surrounding joints, tendons, muscle and bone. These wounds can become septic or cause other deadly infections.

Contact One of Our Attorneys for Legal Assistance

If you do not live near your loved one’s nursing home, it can be harder to capture early signs of substandard care. However, it may help to talk to staff regularly regarding how your loved one’s care is being managed. Speak to your loved one by phone often and listen for signs of neglect or something that may be out of the ordinary. Write down and check out anything that seems unusual or concerning.

At PKSD,our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers are prepared to provide legal help if your loved one suffered serious or life-threatening bedsores due to nursing home neglect. Representatives at our firm are available to take your call and schedule your consultation anytime, day or night. If we represent you, there are no costs to pay unless we achieve a recovery on your behalf.

Call PKSD for legal help today: 414-333-3333

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