While accidents do happen, most injuries residents sustain in nursing homes are preventable—including bed sores. With proper care and treatment, bedsores are usually avoidable, but poor assessments, monitoring, and care can result in skin issues for residents.
If you think your loved one has sustained a preventable ulcer that resulted in related complications, an Illinois nursing home bed sore lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can advise you of your legal options. Depending on the situation, you may be able to pursue a claim. In order to understand how best to proceed, let’s start by going over what a pressure sore is and why they are so dangerous.
What Is a Pressure Sore?
Bed sores, also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, happen when a bedridden or otherwise immobile person is left in one area for extended periods of time. The sores develop on areas of the skin that are under constant pressure from lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair.
While anyone who is immobile for a period of time is at risk of developing a bed sore, older adults, especially those in nursing homes, are more at risk. Immobile older individuals with diabetes, circulation problems, and poor nutrition are most at risk. In a long-term care setting, bed sores are often the result of poor quality of care.
When the blood supply to an area of skin is cut off for more than two or three hours, a bedsore can begin to develop. The most common areas where these ulcers develop are the buttocks, heels of the feet, shoulder blades, back of the head, and back and sides of the knees.
Pressure Ulcer Stages
According to Johns Hopkins, bed sores are categorized in four stages based on the severity. Those stages include the following:
- Stage 1. In the earliest stage, a bedsore will appear red and feel warm to the touch. Individuals with darker complexions may have areas that appear blue or purple. The person could experience burning, pain, and itching.
- Stage 2. In the second stage, bedsores appear more damaged and may have opened to a sore, scrape, or blister. Significant pain is often present, and the wound could be discolored.
- Stage 3. In the third stage, the affected area will have a crater-like appearance due to the damage that now extends below the skin’s surface.
- Stage 4. In the final stage, a bed sore is large, and the affected area is severely damaged. Muscles, tendons, bones, and joints could be involved, and there is a high risk for infection.
Side Effects of Bedsores
Depending on the severity of the bedsore and the person’s health status, it could take weeks, months, or even years for the affected area to heal entirely. If infection sets in, the person could experience fever and chills. As the infection spread throughout the body, it can cause mental confusion, general weakness, and a fast heartbeat.
Other complications bed sores can cause include cellulitis, cancer, and sepsis. Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues. Cellulitis causes warmth, redness, and swelling of the affected area, as well as nerve damage. While uncommon, long-term nonhealing wounds, referred to as Marjolin ulcers, can turn into squamous cell carcinoma. Sepsis is a rare complication, as well, but it is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs, and the body begins to shut down.
How to Prevent Bed Sores
To prevent pressure sores, nursing homes need to ensure they provide residents with the highest quality of care possible. When residents are regularly repositioned, and their skin is taken care of, the risk of developing a bedsore decreases significantly.
When it comes to repositioning, nursing home need to remember to shift residents’ weight approximately every hour, help immobile residents lift themselves off the bed or chair is possible, provide the proper cushions or mattresses that relieve pressure, and ensure the elevation of the head does not go past 30 degrees.
For proper skincare, a resident’s skin should be kept clean and dry. The skin should be protected with moisture barrier creams, and bedding and clothing should be changed as needed. It’s also important to watch for buttons on clothing or bedding wrinkles that could irritate the skin. Finally, staff members need to ensure they are inspecting residents’ skin on a daily basis so that any potential problems can be addressed before they get worse.
Get Help From Thomas Law Offices
If you believe your loved one has developed a pressure sore because of their long-term care facilities, neglect, you may be able to pursue a claim to seek compensation for any related losses, like medical expenses and pain and suffering. To learn more, contact an Illinois nursing home bed sore lawyer from Thomas Law Offices today.