Is Your Loved One Experiencing Bedsores in a Nursing Home? We Can Help.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are supposed to oversee the care of vulnerable and at-risk seniors. When a loved one needs specialized medical care, these are the facilities that family members turn to, placing their trust in them. Yet, when a loved one begins to develop signs of bedsores and ulcers, the family may start to wonder about the type of care their loved one is receiving, and rightfully so. While bedsores may seem like a small inconvenience to some, these tiny ulcers can be indicative of a much bigger problem, like nursing home abuse or neglect.
If your elderly loved one has developed frequent bedsores, or these sores have become infected, they may be suffering from some form of nursing home abuse or neglect. If you have concerns over a family members’ care, now is the time to act.
At The Benton Law Firm, we take your concerns seriously and will work with you to review your case and help investigate your claim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Your family member deserves to be protected. Let us help you. We can hold negligent caregivers and nursing homes accountable for their actions while seeking the compensation that your loved one deserves.
Call us today at (214) 777-7777 to talk about your concerns. We even offer a free initial case evaluation to help get you started down the path toward justice.
Table Of Contents
What are Bedsores, and How are They Caused?
Pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bedsores, are ulcers or injuries that erupt due to intense pressure on the skin. Areas that are most prone to developing bedsores are where the skin that covers bony protrusions of the body, such as ankles, heels, hips, back of the head, and the tailbone. While, theoretically, anyone could develop a bedsore, they mainly impact individuals with mobility problems who are confined to a bed or wheelchair. The elderly, diabetics, people with circulation issues, and individuals who are malnourished are most at risk for developing painful sores.
Bedsores occur when the blood supply to a particular area is cut off, typically due to the intense pressure the body itself places on a particular area. Bedsores can develop in only a matter of hours, although some may take days to fully form. In a nursing home setting, they are generally caused when caregivers fail to provide immobile residents with the care they need. Immobile patients should have their positions changed every 30 minutes to 2 hours. This helps relieve pressure from those commonly impacted areas of the body.
The most common cause of bedsores in a nursing home setting tends to be that residents are left on their own for too long without proper positioning practices. Those with mobility issues or residents confined to a wheelchair or bed must routinely be placed in new and different positions to prevent bedsores. This procedure means that pressure isn’t ever placed on one area of the body long enough to cause tissue ulceration.
Other common causes of bedsores in nursing home settings include:
- Intense pressure
- Consistent pressure
- Friction or rubbing on the skin
- Shear, or the movement of surfaces moving in opposite directions
- Poor wound care management and treatments
Complications of Bedsores
A little sore never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. The appearance of bedsores must be taken extremely seriously in all elderly individuals, especially those with limited mobility and medical conditions. The initial symptoms of a bedsore may seem rather benign:
- Changes in skin color
- Drainage or pus
- Tenderness to the touch
Yet, with time and without proper treatment, bedsores can take on a life of their own, compromise an elderly resident’s health, and even jeopardize their life. Untreated or undiagnosed bedsores can grow in size, become infected, and progress to the point where underlying muscle, bone, and tendons become exposed and impacted.
Some common complications that can result from untreated bedsores include:
- Sepsis or blood poisoning
- Necrotizing fasciitis, or “flesh-eating” bacterial infection
These conditions can become serious and even life-threatening. Complications such as these typically require extensive medical intervention to treat. In addition to heavy courses of antibacterial and other drugs, surgery to remove damaged and dead tissue, and even amputations may be necessary. As we age, our immune systems can become weakened and compromised, infections and serious complications can tax an elderly resident’s immune response to its limits.
Bedsores can and do lead to death. Studies estimate that as many as 60,000 individuals die each year as a result of complications from bedsores and pressure ulcers.
Are Bedsores a Sign of Neglect or Abuse?
Bedsores, especially those left untreated, are one of the most common warning signs that nursing home abuse or neglect may be taking place. Although not always indicative of abuse, if you notice that your loved one has multiple bedsores or sores that become infected, it is a good idea to look closer at the care they are receiving.
Why are bedsores a sign of abuse and neglect? There are several reasons. First, let’s begin with how bedsores are formed. They erupt where intense or constant pressure is placed on one area of the body for a prolonged period of time. This indicates that when bedsores have already begun to develop, the elderly resident was left in one position for too long.
If they are immobile or have mobility problems, this may mean that caregivers are not repositioning them at regular intervals. If that isn’t happening, nursing home neglect may be occurring. Facilities with staffing shortages often end up overtaxing their caregivers. This can lead to resentment and burnout, which in turn can result in either intentional or unintentional cases of neglect.
The same can be true for untreated or festering bedsores. Staff and caregivers may be neglecting the basic care and medical needs of residents they are supposed to be caring for. Sometimes untreated bedsores or improperly treated wounds can also be the result of improperly trained staff and caregivers. Nursing homes are responsible for hiring properly educated and certified individuals, as well as for ensuring that all staff members are properly trained for the positions that they hold.
How are Bedsores Prevented?
Bedsores are a preventable condition. There are several steps that can be taken to ensure that these painful ulcers do not form in the first place. Some of these measures include:
Frequent and Regular Movements
Those with limited mobility or those confined to a wheelchair or to their beds need constant and regular movement and repositioning to prevent intense pressure point ulcers from forming on their skin. While the frequency of this movement and repositioning may vary depending on the condition of the individual, many studies recommend that immobile residents be moved every 30 minutes to 2 hours to avoid the development of pressure ulcers.
Frequent Skin Inspections
In addition to moving patients frequently, staff should also be conducting daily inspections of the resident’s skin. The skin of older individuals tends to be thin and fragile. Inspecting the skin for signs of developing bedsores can help caregivers prevent a sore from becoming worse or getting infected. It also tells the caregiver that the resident may need more frequent repositioning. It may also tell the caregiver that one particular position is putting too much pressure on one specific area of the resident’s body and that new or different positions should be considered.
Proper Hygiene Practices
Proper hygiene and cleanliness go a long way in helping to prevent infection in bedsores. It can also help residents who may have skin folds that rub against themselves, causing friction and potentially sores. The skin should be washed regularly with a mild or gentle cleanser and gently patted until fully dry.
Utilizing Proper Nutrition, Hydration, and Physical Activity
Older adults’ immune responses naturally begin to weaken. Maintaining proper nutrition and hydration are important tools that keep up the body’s ability to fight infection and keep skin healthy. Nursing homes aren’t just in charge of proper medical care, they are responsible for providing residents with basic necessities such as food, water, physical activity, and mental stimulation. All these factors combined contribute to keeping an elderly resident’s immune system as strong as possible.
Contact a Skilled Dallas-Ft. Worth Nursing Home Attorney Today
Bedsores can be a symptom of a bigger problem: nursing home abuse or neglect. These small wounds can cause big problems for nursing home residents and can lead to infection and serious medical complications. Those who tend to develop frequent or regular bedsores may be unable to effectively communicate that they are in a vulnerable position and are being abused or neglected.
Are you concerned about a loved one who has frequent or infected bedsores? Do you suspect abuse or neglect is the cause? Talk to a skilled attorney with The Benton Law Firm about your concerns. We may be able to investigate your claims and find out of abuse or neglect is at play.
For more information about how we may be able to help you or your loved one, contact us today at (214) 777-7777. The initial consultation is free. Let’s talk about how we can help your loved one out of a painful situation and get them the compensation that they deserve.