Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are a common preventable problem amongst nursing home residents due to medical malpractice or neglect and failure to adequately treat the patients needs. Most commonly effecting the tailbone area, heels, ankles and lower back, bed sores are a common cause of infections that can ultimately lead to death in nursing home residents.
Bedsores come are diagnosed by a medical professional into stages 1 – 4. Stage 1 typically have not fully opened and are red or purple spots on the skin that can be warm or sore to the touch and indicate the initial stage of skin breakdown. Stage 1 bedsores can be treated by removing the pressure and keeping the effected area dry and clean. Dietary changes can also help in the recovery process.
Stage 2 bedsores will appear as a shallow crater or wound or look similar to a blister that is filled with fluid and about to pop. Stage two pressure sores may include drainage and are more likely to be painful. Treatment for stage 2 bedsores also requires removing pressure from the site and using specialized dressings to keep the area dry and clean to try to prevent infection.
Stage 3 bedsores are diagnosed when the top two layers of skin have broken and the fatty tissue below is beginning to be effected. Stage 3 bedsores will have visible skin breakdown that shows the internal fatty layer. Stage 3 bedsores are also highly prone to infection. Signs of infection are foul odor, pus, redness and drainage. Stage 3 bedsores may require attention from a surgeon to debride (clean) the wound, specialized mattresses to remove pressure and antibiotic therapy.
Stage 4 bedsores are the most serious classification of bedsore and are highly painful and have large amounts of dead tissue. Often the actual bone is visible and they are commonly infected. A stage 4 bedsore has gone through the existing layers of skin and fatty tissue all the way to the bone or ligaments at the site of the bedsore. If a bedsore reached stage 4, immediate medical intervention is necessary to attempt to keep the wound clean and from growing in size.
Unstageable bedsores are bedsores that are covered in a scab like substance called eschar that prevents the medical professional staging the bedsore from recognizing the true depth of the sore. If a bedsore is unstageable, it will need to be debrided (surgically cleaned) so that the dead tissue is removed and the doctor can appreciate the true depth of the sore and determine the appropriate level of care needed.
Bedsores are preventable injuries. They can be prevented by changing the residents position every 2-3 hours to move the pressure sites on the body or 15 minutes of the resident is in a wheel chair. There are also specialized mattresses and cushions that help increase airflow to an area to prevent pressure from developing. Resident skin health should be checked frequently to ensure that potential bedsores are recognized at the stage 1 level and do not develop into the more dangerous stage 3 or stage 4.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a nursing home or hospital acquired bedsore, our medical malpractice lawyers may be able to help you handle your claim. Click the contact us link below.