One of the most common injuries that occur in nursing homes is the pressure ulcer. Many people do not realize that pressure ulcers are preventable and are actually a sign of nursing home neglect. Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores and pressure sores, are very serious injuries in the elderly and can lead to severe infection, a decline in health, and even death. Recently a family filed a lawsuit against Heather Health Care Center, Inc. and others alleging improper care led to the death of their loved one. The woman died as a result of complications from pressure ulcers.
Pressure ulcers may not seem serious at first. They begin as small red marks on the skin. They appear on areas that are in continuous contact with surfaces such as bed linens. Pressure ulcers can quickly worsen if left untreated. One of the problems with these injuries is that they may not be immediately noticed. By the time they are discovered they have deepened and the skin may be broken. These sores can very easily become infected. Once an infection has begun it can be difficult to resolve.
Severity of Pressure Sores
Pressure ulcers are rated according to their severity. Stage I and II ulcers are the least severe and have not yet broken the skin. Stage III and IV ulcers are the most serious. These sores typically have broken the skin and may have deepened considerably into the tendons. They may also be infected. Once sores worsen to this degree they are very difficult to treat and complications are common.
Prevention of Pressure Ulcers
The most important way to reduce the risk of complications from pressure ulcers is by preventing them in the first place. Patients who are bedridden are at the highest risk of developing bedsores. The patient must be manually repositioned by the nursing home staff in order to prevent sores from occurring. Repositioning may be required every several hours in patients with limited mobility. Caregivers must know how to notice pressure sores in their first stages.
Treatment of Pressure Ulcers
When pressure sores develop they are almost surely signs that the nursing home staff is inadequately caring for the patient. Immediate treatment of pressure ulcers is imperative in successful resolution. The patient should be examined by a physician, who should provide a care and treatment plan to the nursing home staff. Treatment of stage I or II sores usually includes simply keeping the area clean and avoiding any further contact with bedding.
Infections are common once bedsores reach stages III or IV. Infections can be deadly, especially to elderly patients who already may have a compromised immune system. These wounds must be properly dressed and regularly cleaned. Additionally, the patient may need to take antibiotics to fight an impending infection. If the infection worsens it may impact the patient’s organs and cause serious medical concern including possible death.
If your loved one was hurt or died because of neglectful care in a nursing home, contact Levin & Perconti to discuss your case.
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