Bed sores is the commonly used term for pressure ulcers that develop on skin as the result of a lack of movement, prolonged contact, or improper positioning of the body. Though a bed sore can theoretically develop in any person, the average mobility of a healthy adult means that in practice, these only affect those who are restricted in their movements. Generally this includes patients in nursing homes, hospitals, or those under the care of skilled in-home nurses.
Though bed sores may be a common site among those with restricted movement, often they are a sign of neglect. If people who are vulnerable to developing bed sores are not properly cared for or otherwise ignored, they may remain in one position for a long period of time, which applies pressure to the same areas of the body. Wherever the pressure rests is where a bed sore may develop. If a patient is left in a sitting position, a bed sore may develop over the tailbone or lower back area. Similarly, if a patient is left in bed without being moved, bed sores may develop over the areas bearing weight, like an elbow, heel, ankle, hip, or knee.
Bed sores are a known risk to those who are not able to move themselves easily due to a physical limitation which means that those caring for these potential victims must exercise care in their actions to prevent bed sores from forming. This means that healthcare workers must regularly monitor all at-risk patients for signs of skin breakdown and take steps to prevent any further injury. To do this, workers should assist patients by moving them to different positions, reliving pressure from one area and redirecting it to another.
Preventing bed sores may sound easy enough but too often, nursing home employees fail to take the necessary steps to make prevention a possibility. Nationally, nursing homes tend to be understaffed with high patient occupancy, stretching employees thin between patients and letting some details of patient care get ignored. Some nursing homes operate with adequate staffing levels but still allow bed sores to develop in their patients. Though not every bed sore is the result of neglect, the majority of those that occur in nursing home are caused by a failure to properly address the needs of patients.
Bed sores are not merely an unsightly and undesirable skin condition but rather a threat to an elderly patient’s overall health. The skin is the first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants, meaning that as the skin breaks down and a bed sores form, the chances of infection drastically increase. Infections that are not caught early can spread and continue to affect a patient and may turn deadly.
Once a bed sore develops, the condition will continue to exist and may worsen if it is not properly treated. The skin surrounding the area may continue to break down and die, increasing the size of the bed sore and making the sore more difficult to heal. Bed sores also deepen without treatment and can open the area down to the bone. In these bed sores, not only skin is involved but also the soft tissue below the skin, including fat and muscle.
Any nursing home patient can develop a bed sore but some residents are more likely than others to suffer from the condition. Those patients with an inability to move themselves, including quadriplegics and paraplegics, tend to be at the complete mercy of those that help them transfer from a bed to a wheelchair to another chair or other sitting surface. If these people are placed where pressure accumulates in one or more areas of their bodies, a bed sore may develop. Additionally, some patients with memory problems like dementia may forget where they are or what they should do at any given time. Some nursing homes have been known to intentionally limit the movements of some patients to keep them from wandering away but these actions can lead to patients who remain in bed, developing bed sores.
Most bed sores are caused by neglect at a nursing home and are preventable when proper care is used. If your loved one has experienced abuse or neglect while in a nursing home, there may be a claim for a recovery possible against those responsible, including the owners and operators of a nursing home. These claims can be difficult and complicated to bring due to the state and national laws that apply.
The legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. has experience representing victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and successfully bringing claims for the injuries sustained. We believe that injury victims deserve an attorney who is on their side and who is willing to fight for their rights, even in difficult cases.
Call our attorneys today for a free case consultation at (602) 819-5191 or toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER. There is no obligation on your part and we will never charge a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
If your loved one has suffered from bed sores, Contact Us online or call (855) PHX-LAWYER to speak with a lawyer now.