Bedsores (also known pressure sores and decubitus ulcers) are a serious problem facing the elderly population, especially those living in nursing homes. In fact, an article in the National Institutes of Health’s cites a study that says the prevalence of bedsores among elderly people residing in nursing homes admitted to a hospital emergency room was 26.2%.
What is a Sacral Bedsore and Why Do Nursing Home Patients Get Them?
Pressure ulcers are areas of tissue and skin destruction caused by pressure and friction. They usually develop over bony prominences like the heels, ankle, sacrum/lower back/tailbone, back of the head, hips elbows and shoulder blades. The cells in the skin die when they are deprived of blood. Blood supply is interrupted when skin is compressed between bone and an exterior surface like a bed, pillow or wheel chair for an extended period of time.
The sacrum or lower back is very susceptible to developing pressure sores. The sacral area is located near the lower spine just above the tailbone. Often times bedridden nursing home residents are forced to lie on their backs in their beds for extended periods of time. As a result, there is constant pressure placed on their sacrum as it is constantly rubbing up against the bed sheets and mattress. This creates friction which, over an extended period of time, can significantly reduce blood flow to the sacral area. This continual friction and reduced blood flow causes skin on the lower back to die death which causes the skin to rot and develop flesh wounds which are susceptible to infection.
The people most at risk of developing bedsores are those with limited mobility, a condition many nursing home residents face. Mobility can be limited by medical conditions and by lack of proper attention from nursing home staff.
The Four Classification of Bedsores
Bedsores are classified into four stages, with Stage I being the initial bedsore and Stage IV being the most advanced bedsore. Once these sores develop, they can progress rapidly between stages and therefore it is essential that they are attended to promptly and properly. Advanced stage bedsores can lead to several other problems like:
- Bedsores resulting in Sepsis;
- Bedsores resulting in Gangrene;
- Bedsores resulting in Osteomyelitis;
- Bedsores resulting in MRSA;
- Bedsores resulting in Necrotizing fasciitis
How are Bedsores a Sign of Neglect?
Bedsores are often indicative of nursing home neglect. Generally, when they do appear it is a result of pressure on bony areas of the body for a long period of time. Many times, when a patient develops bedsores it is because he or she has been left to lie or sit in the same position for an extended period of time without the ability to relieve pressure on the site of the sore. Once a bedsore begins to appear, the Mayo Clinic notes that it is essential to relieve pressure on that area and check for improvement between 24 and 48 hours. If none is noted, it is necessary to see a doctor. If signs of infection are present, which can include symptoms that seem unrelated to the bedsore like fever or increased heat and redness in the skin surrounding the sore, it is necessary to seek immediate medical treatment.
Unfortunately, many nursing homes are not properly staffed to care for patients. When patients suffer from lack of care and proper attention the nursing home facility in which they reside could be liable for the injuries. If your loved one has developed a bedsore that could be a result of nursing home neglect contact our nursing home abuse lawyers.
We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
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