Pressure sores (also called bed sores or pressure ulcers) are one of the most common, yet preventable, types of nursing home injuries. They occur when nursing home residents are left in stagnant positions for prolonged periods of time and can be linked to both negligence and abuse.
They tend to develop in areas where the bones are near to the skin, such as the hip, back, wrists, and elbow. As many as one out of 10 nursing home residents suffer from pressure sores, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2004, about 11 percent of nursing home residents across the United States suffered from pressure sores. They usually affected residents who:
- Were 64 years of age or younger
- Residents with stays of one year or less
How do pressure sores occur?
Often, bedsores occur in patients due to being stagnant in:
- Wheelchairs: Pressure sores often appear on hands, the tailbone, arms, legs and back.
- Beds: Pressure sores often appear on the back, legs, heels, ankles, knees, ears, hips, and hands.
- Stage 1: The sore at the wound site at stage 1 is visible, but not deep enough to cause any serious complications. If untreated, a stage 1 sore can worsen. Symptoms may include pain, burning, itching or discoloration. This stage may be treated by taking pressure off the site of the sore and cleaning the area regularly.
- Stage 2: The skin is open. Only the skin surface is affected, yet pus may be visible. A stage 2 sore may be treated by taking pressure off the site of the sore, cleaning the area and applying salt. This stage may take between three days and three weeks to heal.
- Stage 3: The pressure sore is more profound and begins to affect muscle tissue. This stage often appears as a crater. Stage 3 may require antibiotics to treat. It can take up to four months to heal.
- Stage 4: The pressure sore reaches its worst stage and affects tendons, muscle tissue, bones, and joints. This stage can be permanent or deadly. It can also result in a serious infection, as well as septic shock. Antibiotics and surgery may be needed to treat a stage 4 sore.
What role does nursing home staff have in preventing pressure sores?
Pressure sores can be prevented when nursing home staff change the positions of bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound residents. Nursing home staff are responsible for regularly attending to residents, helping with mobility, and ensuring proper hygiene and cleanliness.
A nursing home facility can be held accountable when they do not take appropriate prevention measures or fail to provide timely and correct treatment.
This type of negligence can be the result of limited staffing, poorly trained staff, a poorly managed facility, or outright abuse.
If your loved one suffered an injury or illness because nursing home staff members failed to fulfill their obligations, it’s critical that you speak to an experienced Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect attorney who can launch an investigation and help you and your family pursue justice.
To learn more, contact Kurle Justus, LLC online or call our Decatur office at 404-458-4080.