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Are Bedsores a Sign of Neglect?

Pressure ulcers, which are more commonly known as bedsores, are not unusual in a nursing home setting. Too often, the residents of nursing homes are bedridden, unable to move on their own, which means parts of their body, especially the heels, elbows, and the back of the head are pressed against the bed for long periods.

Bedsores should never develop unless the nursing home can demonstrate they were unavoidable due to the patient’s condition.

Understanding Bedsores

Before you can determine if bedsores are a sign of neglect, it is important to understand what bedsores are and how they form. A bedsore occurs when a part of the body is under pressure for considerable periods.

Older patients in nursing homes are at higher risk because they have thinner skin, have less mobility and underlying medical issues. However, bedsores can be prevented with proper care and, if your loved one has developed them, it may be a sign of neglect.

Other Factors that Lead to Bedsores

There are other disturbing factors that may lead to the development of bedsores. A patient who is dehydrated or not eating healthy is at higher risk of developing bedsores. Extended exposure to urine, feces, or other types of moisture can also lead to bedsores. Lack of proper hygiene is another common cause as is failure to change clothing regularly.

Bedsores can be extremely painful and may lead to death if not treated properly. It is also important to read more about bedsores and their stages:

  • Stage I: A bedsore that is categorized as Stage I appears red and discolored, but the skin is not yet broken. It may be warm to the touch or it may feel hard. When you press on the bedsore, it does not lighten or change color.
  • Stage II: A Stage II bedsore has broken the skin and the sore it creates appears shallow.
  • Stage III: If a bedsore reaches Stage III, it has extended beyond the outer layer of skin and progressed to the fatty layers below it.
  • Stage IV: If a bedsore extends beyond the skin and fatty layers into the muscle, it is categorized as Stage IV. There have been instances when a Stage IV bedsore has extended into bone.

Nursing Home Actions

If a patient in a nursing home develops a Stage I bedsore, staff should immediately take steps to treat the pressure point. They should also develop preventative measures to keep bedsores from developing in the future. If bedsores reach Stage II through IV, the nursing home may not be properly treating patients, and they could be guilty of neglect. As a bedsore worsens, the risk of complications rises.

Nursing homes have an obligation to recognize and treat bedsores quickly which means they should never reach past Stage I. An untreated bedsore can lead to infections that could enter the bloodstream and cause death.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has been diagnosed with bedsores beyond Stage I, or if a loved one has died of an infection caused by bedsores they sustained in a nursing home, reach out to an attorney so the negligent care provider can be held accountable.

Victims of nursing home neglect and their survivors should not be left with the bills when bedsores occur due to the negligence of a nursing home facility or its employees. When bedsores are an issue, the staff may be overworked and underpaid, or the facility may not offer proper training. Filing a lawsuit will do more than help your family financially—it will send a message to the facility that they need to do better in the future.