What Causes Bedsores and Why Are They Evidence of Nursing Home Neglect?

Bedsores result from pressure on the skin that affects the surface tissue and underlying tissue. Another name for bedsores is pressure ulcers. Bony areas of the body are most prone to bedsores, which is why they are often found on the heels, ankles, behind the knees, hips, shoulder blades, spine, buttocks, tailbone and back side of the head areas.

What Complications Can Arise from Bedsores?

Ultimately, bedsores can be life threatening and complications include:

  • Skin and soft tissue infections called cellulitis.
  • Joint and bone infections that can damage cartilage and tissue and reduce limb and joint function.
  • Long-term bedsores that are not healing can develop into a type of cancer.
  • Sepsis, while rare, can develop from bedsores. Sepsis is an inflammation throughout the body caused by harmful bacteria and their toxins. The elderly have the highest mortality rates from sepsis.

How Do Bedsores Develop and Who Is Most at Risk?

Patients become at risk for bedsores when a medical condition restricts their mobility. Patients who must lie in bed or a chair or who find it difficult to shift position are the most vulnerable.

It is vital that caregivers or hospital staff move patients frequently and keep an eye out for bedsores because they can develop quickly.

What Symptoms Indicate that Bed Sores Are Developing?

Common symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Unusual skin color or texture changes
  • Tender spots
  • Draining of a pus-like fluid
  • A spot that feels warmer or cooler than other areas

Eventually the skin and tissue damage worsen and what started out as red, unbroken skin can develop into to a deep cut that goes through muscle and to the bone.

(Reference: Mayo Clinic)

How Are Caregivers in Nursing Homes Held Responsible for Preventing Bedsores?

Nursing homes are responsible for taking preventative measures so their residents do not develop bedsores. Maintaining good nutrition and fluid intake is vital. Ensuring the patient is frequently moved is another precaution. Using cushions or special mattresses can relieve pressure, as can elevating the person’s head (no more than 30 degrees). It is important to keep the skin clean and dry. Using lotion on dry skin can help using talcum power at friction points can also help to protect the skin. Caregivers should change the resident’s bedding and clothing frequently. They should inspect the skin daily for signs of developing pressure sores.

Do You Have Questions About Nursing Home Negligence?

Our attorneys at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP are glad to answer your questions.