Bed Sores Causes, Stages & Treatment Plans
Bedsores and pressure sores are among the most common injuries in nursing homes. Bedsore injuries occur when nursing home staff neglect to move an elderly patient around in their bed, leaving them in one position for too long. Bedsores are often symptoms of wider neglect at an elder care facility.
Any bed or pressure sore found on a resident at an elder care facility should be immediately examined by a doctor and treated. If a care home fails to notice the sore or fails to secure proper treatment from a medical professional, they can be held liable for neglect.
Bed Sores Causes
Bedsores, often also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers, are skin and tissue injuries caused by extended pressure. They are common among people with limited mobility and the elderly.
Bedsores are caused by repeated pressure, friction, or wearing against the same spot on the skin. The pressure can be caused by sitting or lying in the same position for an extended time or by limited repeated movement. The pressure or friction begins to damage the skin and tissue at the centralized pressure area, and the surrounding tissue, skin, and bone start to degrade.
Bedsores are usually preventable and often develop slowly enough that they can be treated early. The development of bedsores is often due to negligent care. Negligent care includes failing to move the person to prevent sores from forming and failing to notice and address sores as they develop. Care homes and medical facilities can be liable if a patient or elderly resident develops a sore, as it is a sign they are not providing adequate care to their patients.
Bed Sores Stages
Bedsores do not develop overnight and are generally the result of repeated neglect of initial symptoms. Any person at an elevated risk for sores, like bedbound patients or those in wheelchairs, should be checked regularly. Particular focus should be given to high-risk areas of the body, such as:
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the head
As it develops, a sore goes through a series of stages, which may include:
Initial Discoloration and Pain
During the first stage of bedsore development, a discolored mark, commonly red, brown, or purple, appears that causes pain and irritation in most people. Some elderly patients with limited or impaired sensory perception might not notice the pain.
In the second stage of development, the sore opens and becomes a painful, often leaking wound. The opening of the wound heightens the risk of infection for the patient, as bacteria can enter the bedsore through the open, damaged skin.
As the sore progresses in seriousness, the damage moves further into the body. This gives the bedsore a cratered appearance as the layers of skin and tissue beneath the sore begins to degrade and collapse.
Further Bone and Tissue Damage
As the bedsore wound deteriorates, the tissue and bone below the initial sore degrade and break down. At this stage, the chance for infection is very high and requires serious medical attention.
Sore Treatment Plans
Whenever staff discovers a bedsore, they must treat it immediately. The treatment for bed sores or pressure ulcers depends on what state the sore is discovered and how far the sore has progressed. Every patient requires a treatment plan unique to their individual medical situation and sore; however, common treatments plans for a bed or pressure sores include:
- Remove all pressure on the wound and avoid putting pressure on the wound until healed
- Remove damaged, infected, or necrotic skin, tissue, or bone using a process called debridement
- Thoroughly clean the wound
Apply cream for bedsores and dress the wound with medical gauze
- To prevent infection, a doctor may recommend a round of antibiotics.
- If the wound is severe enough, Negative Pressure Wound Therapy may be necessary to treat, heal and repair damaged tissue.
- Sores that have done serious or widespread damage may require reconstructive skin or bone grafts.
The key to successful bed sores treatment is early detection and rapid therapeutic care. The longer any sore is allowed to progress, the more invasive the treatment will need to be.
Prevention of Sores
Bedsores form when a caregiver doesn’t follow proper preventative steps and fail to give their patient the care they deserve.
To prevent bedsores, caregivers should check patients daily, particularly those at risk. High-risk patients include:
- Patients who use wheelchairs
- Patients with limited mobility
- Bedridden patients
- Patients with impaired senses
- Patients with diabetes or circulation problems
- Malnourished patients
- Patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia
Caregivers should reposition these patients every 15 minutes, and those in beds should be moved or shifted every 2 hours. Caregivers should use extra padding in high-pressure areas like the seats of wheelchairs and keep their patient’s skin clean and dry at all times.
If nursing home staff take simple preventative steps and perform thorough daily examinations, bed and pressure sores rarely, if ever, occur.
The Rights of Elder Care Home Residents
Every person in an elder care facility has patient rights, and the care home has the responsibility to provide proper care to every resident. Recognizing and treating pressure sores often indicates the level of care provided by the facility. When preventable bedsores occur, it is usually a sign of additional neglect and abuse.
A care facility with an abnormally high number of bedsore cases may be mistreating the residents. This sort of abuse and neglect is sadly far too common. However, residents, their family members, and those with power of attorney have legal recourse in cases of mistreatment.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and has suffered from a bed or pressure sore, it could mean they are not receiving the care they deserve. A nursing home abuse lawyer can walk you through legal steps you can take to set things right.
Contact an assisted living abuse attorney at Berberian Ain LLP today to learn more about your loved one’s legal rights and discuss your legal options.