Bedsores (also known as pressure ulcers) affect over 2.5 million people annually in the U.S. These injuries to the skin and underlying tissue result from prolonged pressure and are particularly prevalent among seniors due to their more fragile skin and often limited mobility.
Understanding the prevention, recognition, and treatment of pressure ulcers is crucial, as they can cause severe discomfort and lead to complications. In cases where facilities fail to take adequate preventative measures, the occurrence of bedsores will likely constitute nursing home neglect.
What causes bedsores in nursing homes?
Bedsores are primarily caused by sustained pressure against the skin. This reduces blood flow and causes tissue death. They typically develop in areas where bones are close to the skin, such as the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, heels, and ankles.
Contributing factors include friction and shear forces, which are often exacerbated by moisture and irritants such as urine and feces. Risk factors for bedsores include:
- Limited mobility.
- Sensory loss.
- Cognitive impairment.
- Poor nutrition.
- Poor hygiene.
- Medical conditions affecting blood flow.
How should nursing homes help prevent bedsores?
Prevention of bedsores involves regular position changes to minimize pressure on vulnerable areas such as the tailbone, shoulder blades, and knees. For those confined to a wheelchair or bed, using cushions and devices to elevate body parts can help. Maintaining skin cleanliness, managing moisture from incontinence, and ensuring proper nutrition are also key preventive measures.
What are the stages of bedsores in nursing homes?
Recognizing bedsores early is key to effective treatment. It's important to understand the stages of their development. Below, you'll find the four key stages to watch for.
- Stage 1: During this stage, the skin shows signs of redness. The affected area may feel warm, and in darker skin tones, the sore may appear blue or purple. The area may be painful, firm, soft, warmer, or cooler compared to the surrounding skin.
- Stage 2: The outer layer of skin and part of the underlying layer of skin sustain damage, leading to an open wound, scrape, or blister. The sore is more painful and may be swollen and warm. There may be clear fluid oozing from the wound.
- Stage 3: The loss of skin typically reveals a deeper wound, exposing the fat layer. The sore has a crater-like appearance. The area has a higher risk of infection, and the damage extends below the skin.
- Stage 4: The sore is very deep, reaching into muscle and bone, and causing extensive damage. Tendons, ligaments, and cartilage are exposed. There's a significant risk of severe infection, and the area may show signs of necrosis (tissue death).
Treatment for bedsores
Treatment varies by stage. For example, stages 1 and 2 may heal within weeks with proper care. That includes relieving pressure, keeping the area clean, and managing pain.
Stages 3 and 4 require more intensive medical intervention. This may involve surgical removal of damaged tissue, use of medical devices, or enzymatic treatments, along with antibiotics and pain management.
Pursuing legal action on behalf of your loved one
Establishing liability in nursing home bedsore cases typically requires proving negligence. This involves demonstrating that the nursing home staff had a duty to prevent harm, including from bedsores. You must then show that they breached this duty, resulting in harm to you or your loved one.
Evidence of damages (e.g., medical expenses and pain and suffering) is also required. Multiple parties, from nursing home staff to equipment manufacturers, can be held liable if their actions or products contributed to the development of bedsores.
When pursuing a claim against a nursing home facility, it's best to seek the help and guidance of an experienced Georgia attorney. The legal team at Kurle Justus, LLC in Decatur passionately advocates for the rights of nursing home neglect victims and their families. We also fight to hold negligent staff and administrators accountable when their actions or failure to act harm residents.
If your loved one was harmed due to nursing home neglect or abuse in Georgia, contact us for a free consultation. We'll work tirelessly to build a strong case on your behalf and help you seek the justice and accountability your family deserves.