Bedsores, also called pressure sores, pressure ulcers, and decubitus ulcers, are common among nursing home patients. Bedsores are the result of constant pressure to the skin in a specific area, which has not been relieved. They can occur when a person is bedridden and is unable to move about or change positions. Pressure sores can occur more often in those who are malnourished. The important thing to remember is that bedsores are not acceptable and are a sign of nursing home abuse.
Stages of Bedsores
There are various stages of pressure sores. At first, a stage I bedsore begins with a red mark which may be warm to the touch. A stage II bedsore is a red mark that extends deeper into the skin and there may be some minor skin loss. In a stage III bedsore, the outer layers of skin are gone and the tissues may be involved. The final stage IV bedsore involves extensive skin loss and the lesion has now damaged the support areas including muscles or bones. As these pressure ulcers worsen they can become infected and pose a serious health risk.
Advanced Pressure Sores
Pressure sores should be noticed and dealt with immediately. If left untreated, bedsores become infected and are very difficult to successfully treat. In the elderly, a bedsore can quickly turn deadly. Pressure sores are considered a “never event” by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Serious bedsores, those in stages III and IV, are not covered by Medicare because they have occurred as a result of improper care. Once pressure sores become advanced the patient requires immediate care of the sores as well as changes to care in order to eliminate the risk of new bedsores from occurring.
Pressure sores can and should be prevented. The patient must be regularly inspected for bedsores because they can occur in various locations on the body and the first sign is typically only redness. The most common areas of occurrence include:
- Heels; and
The most important way to prevent bedsores is through proper patient movement. The patient cannot be allowed to remain in one position for too long a time. In those who are immobile or seriously debilitated, this regular movement can be difficult, however, it is necessary. Additionally, it is helpful to ensure that the head is not raised more than 30 degrees because this can cause friction injuries. A pressure reducing mattress is best.
Pressure Sores in Nursing Homes
Pressure sores should never occur in nursing homes. If you notice pressure sores on your loved one, it is necessary to report it immediately. The sores should be examined by a physician and monitored several times a day to ensure that they are not worsening. Bedsores are very difficult to treat and could lead to serious illness. If your loved one is the victim of pressure sores in a nursing home, contact the experienced attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP to speak with someone as soon as possible.