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Bedsores are a sign of neglect in nursing homes

Nursing home abuse can happen to anyone in a nursing home's care. It could be a relatively healthy person at the nursing home temporarily, or it could be an elder who requires 24-hour care. Regardless of who the case involves, it's never acceptable for a person to fall victim to nursing home abuse. Nursing homes should have standards in place to prevent abuse or neglect, and if they don't, they should be held accountable for any injuries that take place.

There are typically signs that a person is being harmed in a nursing home. For example, one serious injury that can happen is a bedsore. They can happen almost anywhere on the body if the area loses circulation. They're more common among those who cannot move themselves and rely on others to help them shift their weight since they can't move when their skin or body feels uncomfortable.

What is a bed sore?

A bed sore is an ulcer caused by constant pressure on the area. Often, this occurs on a bony part of the body, such as a tailbone. Friction and shear can also lead to bed sores. These painful ulcers are often associated with patients who have to remain in bed and those who require transfer assistance in and out of bed or a wheelchair.

Where are bedsores most common?

Bedsores are most common on the:

  • Tailbone
  • Hips
  • Heels of the feet
  • Back of the head
  • Sides and back of the knees
  • Shoulder blades

The stages of bed sores

Bedsores are also called pressure sores. They develop from constant pressure on one area of the body, often over bony areas, such as the hips, knees and spine. There are four stages of be sores:

  • Stage I
    Stage I is like a deep bruise. Discoloration is common in Stage I. Bedsores are easiest to treat if you catch them in this early stage of development, so check your loved one regularly for any indication bedsores may be forming.
  • Stage II
    Stage II sores, or those more progressed, often involve broken skin and tissue ulcers, which can become quite serious.
  • Stage III
    The sore progresses into a sunken hole in the skin, also known as a crater that reveals deeper tissue damage. Body fat may be visible in the crater.
  • Stave IV
    By Stage IV, the wound may be deep enough to expose muscle or even bone. These wounds not only kill surrounding tissue, they can lead to systemic infections.

The worse the bedsores, the more likely the staff at the facility has been overtly neglecting or intentionally abusing your loved one. In addition to seeking an alternate facility, you should speak with an experienced personal injury or medical malpractice attorney familiar with elder abuse and nursing home neglect.

Can bed sores be prevented?

It is possible to prevent bed sores, also known as pressure sores, with proper care. People who are in bed all the time should be re-positioned often. This prevents one single area of the body from having to be under pressure all the time. The use of proper transfer techniques is also important in the prevention of these ulcers. This includes making sure that the patient's skin isn't being pulled or rubbed excessively during transfer.

Do bed sores in nursing home residents indicate neglect?

While some bed sores might be inevitable in those with reduced mobility, there is a great deal that can be done to reduce the severity of bed sores when care is taken. Therefore, if bed sores are at the more severe stages, it may indicate that nursing home carers are simply not doing enough to prevent pain in their residents. It may also suggest that patients are being kept in damp clothing or are subject to poor hygiene.

If bed sores are found around the ankles and feet, it may be an indication that the resident is being kept in the same footwear or not being removed from their wheelchair.

How are bed sores treated?

Bed sores are treated in a variety of ways. The location and the severity of the bed sores affect the course of treatment. Using antibiotics and other medications might be necessary. The wound needs to be cleaned and dressed. If the bed sore is severe, surgical intervention might be necessary to remove dead tissue from the area to facilitate healing.

What should you do if you notice your loved one has an ulcer or bedsore?

If you see that your loved one has a bedsore, it's necessary to get them medical attention right away. You should help them move to restore circulation to the area of the body that had pressure on it, then take them to the hospital or call 911. Minor cases may resolve on their own, but bedsores can become infected and get so severe that they put a patient's life at risk.

Our site has more on nursing home abuse and what you can do if your loved one is victimized by poor care or negligence in their facility.

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