Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, refer to an injury to the skin and the skin’s underlying tissues. As the name indicates, bedsores or pressure ulcers are caused by having pressure against the skin for a prolonged period of time. Usually, bedsores develop around bony areas of the body where there is little muscle and fat covering the bone. For example, bedsores commonly develop on the hips, knees, ankles, and along the tailbone.
People who are in good health and able to walk around do not typically get bedsores because they don’t lay down for prolong periods of time. Instead, those who are afflicted with bedsores the most are people who have a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to move around and change positions. Bedsores usually develop in people who are confined to a bed or a chair, and they frequently occur in the nursing home setting.
Symptoms of bedsores:
- Swelling and tenderness,
- Red, broken skin,
- Changes in the skin’s texture and color,
- A pus-like substance drains from the sore, and
- The wound feels warmer or cooler to the touch than other parts of the body.
Bedsores vary in severity; a new bedsore can appear red with unbroken skin, while an advanced bedsore left untreated can be a deep injury that penetrates the muscle and bone. If a bedsore develops, it’s important for the individual’s position to be changed to take the pressure off of the area. If the bedsore does not improve within 48 hours, medical intervention is necessary.
Causes of bedsores:
- Too much pressure on an area of the body, which decreases the blood flow in the tissues. Blood flow cannot be underestimated; it’s vital so that oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the tissues. Without adequate blood flow, the skin and surrounding tissues can die.
- Friction can lead to bedsores – this happens when a person’s skin is rubbed by bedding or clothing. If the skin is fragile to begin with, excess friction can lead to bedsores.
- Shear can lead to bedsores. Shear is where two surfaces, such as skin and a bed, are moving in the opposite direction – this can lead to sores.
What are the risk factors?
- Inadequate nutrition leads to bedsores because people need proper nutrition to maintain healthy skin.
- Dehydration can lead to bedsores because it compromises the skin’s health.
- Being confined to a bed or wheelchair (immobility).
- Certain medical conditions that decrease blood flow, such as diabetes, increase the risk of bedsores.
Bedsores are not to be ignored, they can lead to serious complications, such as cellulitis, bone and joint infections, cancer and sepsis (although sepsis is rare). Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for bedsores to develop in nursing home patients as a result of neglect. If your loved one has developed bedsores in the nursing home setting, know that bedsores are not something to be tolerated or ignored. Often, bedsores are a direct result of poor nutrition or dehydration, or the failure to move patients so they will have adequate blood flow.
To learn more about your loved one’s rights, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney!