Gangrene typically attacks people with low blood circulation. Diabetes and peripheral vascular disease are examples of two conditions that cause low blood pressure. Nursing home residents that have these conditions are more susceptible to contracting gangrene.
The Dangers of Gangrene
Gangrene is a potentially deadly condition dealing with skin and tissue death that is caused by reduced blood flow, insufficient blood supply or bacterial infection.
Gangrene typically attacks the extremities like fingers, toes and feet. It can grow to affect other limbs and vital organs.
Why the Elderly are Particularly At Risk for Developing Gangrene from Bedsores
Gangrene typically attacks people with low blood circulation. Diabetes and peripheral vascular disease are examples of two conditions that cause low blood pressure. Nursing home residents that have these conditions are more susceptible to contracting gangrene. Residents that suffer from low blood flow circulation are also more likely to develop bedsores (also known as pressure sores and decubitus ulcers). Both gangrene and pressure sores result when essential blood flow/circulation is reduced in certain areas of the body. Without blood flow skin tissue dies then rots and creates flesh type wounds. Often, bedsores that go untreated can advance quite rapidly. As bedsores get worse they damage blood vessels surrounding the sore which can be a precursor to developing gangrene. Pressure sores are avoidable if nursing home staff provide adequate treatment.
Gangrene often develops on the back of the heels and in the toes. These areas are furthest from the heart and therefore receive less blood circulation than other parts of the body closer to the heart. The heels are also an area that are very susceptible to developing pressure sores. Often times bedridden nursing home residents are forced to lie on their backs in their beds for extended periods of time. As a result, the heels of their feet are constantly rubbing up against their bed sheets and mattress. This creates friction which, over an extended period of time, can significantly reduce blood flow to the heels causing skin cell death which causes the skin to rot and develop flesh wounds which are susceptible to infection.
Most cases of gangrene require surgical debridement of the affected skin. A debridement procedures is a removal of the dead tissue and skin. Without surgical debridement resident could undergo an amputation of every affected area to ensure the gangrene does not spread throughout the body.
Symptoms of Gangrene
According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of gangrene affecting a person’s skin include:
- Skin discoloration, which varies depending on the type of gangrene present;
- Severe pain followed by numbness;
- Distinct line between healthy and infected skin; and
- Foul-smelling discharge leaking from a sore on the skin.
For individuals that experience internal gangrene, symptoms can include:
- Swelling of and pain around the infected tissue;
- Having a fever and generally feeling unwell; and
- Symptoms related to septic shock, which can occur if the gangrene infection spreads throughout the body.
As with many conditions nursing home residents may face, these symptoms could be related to gangrene or they could be related to a different concern. Either way, nursing home staff must address all symptoms adequately and promptly to help ensure the best outcome for their residents. Nursing homes also need to identify the residents with low blood circulation as they are the most likely to develop gangrene. Nursing homes then need to take steps to prevent both gangrene and bedsores from developing.
Diagnosing and Treating Gangrene
Usually, gangrene can be identified by a medical professional after a series of blood tests. Advanced cases may require surgical procedures to help determine the extent of the infection. Treatment generally involves removing the infected area followed by antibiotics and other treatments. Even when treated effectively, gangrene can result in scarring that is often severe enough to require reconstructive surgery. If gangrene is allowed to progress, it may require amputation of the affected part of the body. When untreated, gangrene can spread quickly throughout the body and cause death. That is why it is important for nursing home staff to address bedsores and other conditions that can lead to gangrene immediately. In some circumstances, failure to notice and properly respond to a condition like gangrene may make the nursing home liable for resulting injuries.
What Can You Do if You Have Gangrene Due To Bedsores?
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.
Sometimes a nursing home is liable for your loved one’s injuries and their resulting complications, including death. When a nursing home neglects patient needs, including their medical needs related to bedsores, they may have committed a type of medical malpractice for which you can seek compensation. If you believe your loved one has died because of complications related to bedsores or other forms of nursing home neglect, nursing home neglect contact our lawyers today for a free consultation.
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.
Massachusetts Attorneys for Nursing Home Neglect Resulting in Bedsore Gangrene. Free Consultation. No fee if no recovery.
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