Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, develop most often in people confined to beds or wheelchairs and have a limited range of motion. Nursing homes, or other long-term care facilities, are the most common places they are found.
Bedsores are a serious and potentially life-threatening injury for older, frail people, especially when they are not routinely repositioned while in bed or sitting in a chair. People with circulation problems, diabetes and poor nutrition are at a higher risk.
What parts of the body are usually affected?
Bedsores develop after the blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than two or three hours. They happen most often on the:
- Tailbone, hips and buttocks area
- Heels of the feet
- Backs and sides of knees
- Back of the head
- Shoulder blades
Symptoms for the four stages of bedsores
Once the blood supply is cut off, bedsores begin as a red, painful area, which will eventually turn purple. If the wound is left untreated, the skin can rupture, and the area can become infected. Bedsores are divided into four stages, from least to most severe:
- Stage 1: The wound looks red and feels warm, and the person may experience pain, itching and burning
- Stage 2: Open sores, scrapes and blisters develop, the area around the wound may be discolored, and the patient complains of significant pain
- Stage 3: Damage below the skin is occurring, and the area around and under the wound appears to have a crater-like appearance
- Stage 4: The wound looks severe and becomes larger, the damage can extend to muscles, tendons and bones and infection is a significant risk
Bedsores often result from negligence
To prevent bedsores from happening, the nursing staff must turn patients at least every two hours and clean affected areas. Patients sitting in wheelchairs must be repositioned every 15 minutes, and staff members should provide soft padding to reduce pressure. Staff must also keep the affected area clean and dry and make sure the patient’s nutritional needs are being met.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes have low staffing levels and lack adequate supervision. Many employees consider cleaning and repositioning patients as unpleasant chores and neglect doing those tasks. Many will make false record entries, claiming these procedures were done.
Hold nursing homes accountable
Many companies that own nursing homes are more interested in profits than making sure patients receive adequate care. If you or a loved one develops bedsores that are left untreated, an experienced attorney can help you take action to hold these companies and their personnel responsible.