Bed Sores: How They Happen and What You Need to Know
Some of the worst injuries people suffer in long-term care settings don’t involve one traumatic event like a slip or fall or hit. Instead, they occur slowly due to a prolonged lack of proper care, and they’re often a sign that a facility resident is being neglected by care providers.
One of the most common examples of this type of slow-forming injury is a bed sore. Bed sores develop over the course of several days, weeks, or months, and they can easily become a source of other complications, including serious infections and death.
What Is a Bed Sore?
A bed sore is damage to the skin caused by prolonged friction or pressure against the skin, such as from lying down on a bed without being moved when you are unable to move yourself. The technical term for these injuries is decubitus ulcers, though they’re also commonly known as pressure sores and pressure ulcers.
How Bed Sores Happen
Though they’re often called bed sores, these injuries aren’t limited to bedridden people. They can happen from prolonged exposure to other objects or surfaces, such as wheelchairs.
They most commonly form around bony areas of the body, including elbows, hips, ankles, buttocks, and shoulders. Bed sores are frequently seen in long-term care facilities when residents are stationary for long periods.
The Four Stages of Bed Sores
There are four primary stages of a pressure ulcer. Left untreated, these injuries predictably progress from one to the next.
- Stage I: A bed sore forms, and the skin appears red. When touched, it doesn’t become white like it might with other skin conditions.
- Stage II: An open sore or blister appears, and the surrounding tissue looks red and irritated.
- Stage III: The injured area craters and a sunken, open wound forms.
- Stave IV: The injured area expands to include underlying muscles and bones, which are sometimes visible and significantly damaged.
There are other variations of bed sores in which areas below the skin are injured and the top layer of skin dies. Medical professionals have a more difficult time identifying the stage of these sores because they’re obscured.
Who Is Most Susceptible to Bed Sores?
Wheelchair users and people who are bedridden are at a high risk of developing bed sores. Someone is more likely to develop bed sores if they have fragile skin, are older, have conditions that limit blood flow in the body, lack adequate hygiene, lack proper nutrition, have difficulties controlling their bowels, or need assistance moving.
This means that bed sores are a serious problem among nursing home residents. Residents often have one or more of the risk factors listed above. Without intervention and proper care from a nursing home’s staff, these injuries can be life-threatening.
Steps to Avoid Bed Sores
The best way to combat bed sores is prevention. Preventing pressure ulcers means frequently moving and cleaning a patient to relieve pressure and friction on the skin from commonly used surfaces. Proper hydration and nutrition also help keep the skin healthy.
Once a bed sore occurs, medical attention is often required. The injuries must be frequently cleaned and tended to. Proper care will prevent the bed sore from progressing to a more advanced stage.
Bed Sores as a Sign of Neglect
Bed sores can indicate that a patient in a medical facility isn’t getting the care they need. Medical professionals and nursing home staff members are trained to identify and treat pressure ulcers before they present a significant risk to patients. If you’ve noticed that a loved one has developed bed sores, speak to the person or people in charge of providing their care.
Have You Seen Bed Sores on Your Loved One?
When you have a loved one living in a nursing home, look for visible bed sores when you visit. They could signal even greater problems of negligent treatment in the facility. You should also look for additional signs of neglect, such as malnutrition, dehydration, and poor hygiene.
If you have any experience with bed sores, you know how serious these injuries are. When your loved one begins showing signs of a pressure ulcer, it’s vital you make sure they get the care they require before the injury worsens.
Holding Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable
When a nursing home fails to provide adequate care to residents, they leave vulnerable people at risk of developing serious medical conditions. And when these facilities neglect residents, they can and should be held accountable.
Your loved one deserves better, and they deserve compensation for costs related to negligent care. Medical care for bed sores quickly becomes expensive, and the nursing home responsible for these injuries can be held liable for the costs of that care.
Legal Options for Bed Sore Injuries Suffered in a Nursing Home
If you’re concerned about the health of a loved one in a nursing home, you have legal options available, including filing a compensation claim on their behalf. If you’re unsure whether you have a claim, you can contact a nursing home injury attorney to discuss the best path forward.
Contact Sawyer Law Firm Today
If you need a nursing home abuse lawyer in Alabama, contact J.P. Sawyer. Sawyer Law Firm is known statewide as one of the leading nursing home injury advocates. We offer free consultations, so there’s no cost to reach out to us to discuss your case.
In our experience, bed sores are one of the most common reasons people contact an attorney about the care their loved one is receiving. These injuries are serious, and you’re within your right to consider the next steps to get your loved one better care and payment to cover the costs of past and future medical treatment. Let us assess your case to help you explore your legal options. Contact J.P. Sawyer today for a free case evaluation.