What You Don’t Know About Bedsores Could Be Hurting Your Loved One
Sadly, painful bedsores are one of the most common and preventable injuries in nursing homes and can serve as a severe warning sign of underlying nursing home neglect. A pressure ulcer, also sometimes called a bedsore, a pressure sore, or even decubitus ulcer, may not appear serious at first in some nursing home residents. The open wound often begins with minor red marks on areas of the skin that are in continuous contact with surfaces such as bed linens. The sore will almost always make itself known thought, but it often too late and can be a sad situation for any family member to be informed of when the discovery of it gets to a dangerous and painful open wound stage. By this time, the sore has usually broken down so much skin that the underlying tissue, sometimes bone, is now exposed. These injuries are sure to reveal a more extensive scope of care issues impacting your loved one’s health. When not taken care of or treated with the medical attention required, pressure sores can lead to severe infection, a general decline in overall health, unnecessary emotional anguish and painful discomfort, and even death.
Bedsores are serious injuries that can become life-threatening if not treated in a responsible and timely manner. Although alternative therapies to treat bedsores are becoming available, pressure ulcer treatment remains time-consuming for care staff, making understaffed and underequipped facilities commonplace for bedsores to occur.
The 4 Stages of Bedsore Infections to Watch Out for During Your Next Visit
The most important way to reduce the risk of complications from pressure ulcers is by preventing them in the first place. Bedridden patients are at the highest risk of developing bedsores. The nursing home staff must manually reposition the patient 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. Decubitus ulcers are also called pressure ulcers and bedsores. They are skin wounds that occur when something repeatedly rubs on an area of the skin. Most often, bedding causes bedsores, but they can also happen when the skin is in contact with medical tubing or other items. The ulcers start as small yet painful red marks and can quickly worsen. Caregivers must check patients daily to ensure that bedsores are not forming. Family and friends visiting with residents should also look for these dangerous skin ulcers and report them at any stage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) findings indicate that nursing home neglect or abuse victims often develop bedsores in five categories. Medical professionals typically refer to a “least severe” staging system to “most severe” to diagnose the severity of pressure ulcers.
- Stage 1:A persistent area of skin redness (without a break in the skin) that does not disappear when pressure is relieved.
- Stage 2:A partial thickness is lost and may appear as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater.
- Stage 3:A total thickness of the skin is lost, exposing the subcutaneous tissues-presents as a deep crater with or without undermining adjacent tissue.
- Stage 4:An entire thickness of skin and subcutaneous tissues is lost, exposing muscle or bone.
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 dressed appropriately 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 concerns, including possible death.
6 Questions to Ask Nursing Home Directors If Your Loved One Has a Pressure Ulcer
For those learning that a family member or friend residing in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility has developed a bedsore, knowing what to do next may feel troubling. Here is a shortlist of questions you can ask the nursing home director or administrator to learn more and begin advocating for your loved one’s recovery.
- How severe is the ulcer, and what stage?
- When did staff first notice the wound, and how was the treatment plan followed?
- How many hours was the resident left in bed without being repositioned?
- How strictly was the care observed and attention to treat the sore noted?
- Could the sore have been prevented?
- What are you going to do to treat this sore moving ahead?
In addition, ask to review the standard of care practiced by staff for basic hygiene and report any suspected violation of these basic principles to the local ombudsmen officer. Suppose you are too frightened by what you have found out or feel helpless and unsure what to do with the answers you receive. In that case, it’s an excellent time to connect with an experienced pressure ulcer attorney at Levin & Perconti who can help you through any discomforting conclusions. We can also help uncover any signs of nursing home neglect that may have caused the pressure ulcer.
Some Residents Will Require More Care to Reduce Risk of Bed Sores
Significant morbidity of decreased mobility can rush the development of a pressure ulcer and delay recovery. Patients require a prolonged course of treatment to heal their wounds entirely; otherwise, bedsores can lead to related complications, including:
- Infections: cellulitis (skin), osteomyelitis (bone), endocarditis (heart lining), meningitis (cerebrospinal fluid), sepsis(blood), and necrotizing fasciitis (commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria)
- Septic arthritis:a joint disease caused by a bacterial infection
- Abscesses:skin and soft tissue lesions
- Heterotopic bone formations:deposits form in the soft tissue, typically in the hip joint area, and result in impaired mobility
Other risk factors for the development of pressure ulcers, according to NIH researchers, include:
- Contractures: A condition of shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, or other tissue, often leading to deformity and rigidity of joints.
- Diabetes: A group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose). Nursing home residents often have Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, or prediabetes.
- Immunosuppression: The partial or complete suppression of the immune response of an individual. It is induced to help the survival of an organ after a transplant operation.
- Malnutrition: A condition that develops when the body is deprived of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. Malnutrition can occur in nursing home residents who are either under-nourished or over-nourished with the wrong nutrients.
- Dehydration: Unfortunately, dehydration is common in a nursing home setting and occurs when residents use or lose more fluid than they take in. Their body won’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out normal functions. If staff do not monitor fluids or replace lost fluids, residents will get dehydrated and become at much greater risk of developing a pressure ulcer.
Patients lying on hard surfaces for several hours each day, restrained either physically or chemically, have poor skin hygiene, are wheelchair-bound, or smoke are also at a higher risk of developing dangerous bedsores. Therefore, they should be watched over more closely to help prevent skin problems. Residents with poorly fitting prostheses, a spinal cord injury, or vascular disease are also prone to suffering from bedsores and pressure ulcers.
Understaffed Nursing Homes Remain a Major Challenge in Preventing Bedsores
Nursing homes have a duty to identify residents at risk of developing a bedsore problem and ensuring that they improve once found. They must also develop a customized program to prevent and monitor each resident’s risk for developing pressure ulcers. Unfortunately, we know that after decades of fighting for nursing home residents who have been sickened and neglected at facilities that are inadequately staffed, many of the preventative measures to manage pressure ulcer prevention and care outlined in an individualized plan are hardly ever complied with.
Having enough trained staff who can pay considerable attention to maintaining the cleanliness and treatment of a wound remains pressure ulcer prevention and therapy hallmarks in all long-term care facilities.
Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Attorney for a Free Consultation
Suppose you or a loved one has experienced a pressure ulcer while residing in a nursing home or care facility. In that case, we encourage you to contact our Chicago nursing home attorneys for a free consultation. Our numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements speak for themselves, but what they won’t tell you is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that one of our experienced attorneys is working for you and your loved one. You do not have to face this alone.
Consultations are free, and we are not paid unless we recover money for you and your loved one. Call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or in Chicago at 312-332-2872. In addition, there is a timeline to file lawsuits for nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Illinois, so please, act as soon as you are comfortable and ready.