What Are Bedsores and Who Is at Risk?
Bedsores result from extended periods of confinement. Constant pressure on the body can cut off blood flow if someone is stationary in a bed or chair. When blood flow is significantly reduced, tissue damage may occur. The result is a sore that can eventually lead to severe complications.
Pressure ulcers usually develop in body parts with less tissue between the skin and bones. Depending on the body’s position, sores can also develop in fattier areas. Some common bedsore areas include:
- Base of spine
- Inner knees
The elderly are at high risk for developing bedsores. Patients who struggle with mobility are particularly vulnerable. If they cannot reposition themselves in a wheelchair or bed, ulcers can easily form. Therefore, nurses should occasionally adjust patients to avoid injury.
Others at risk for bedsores include those with circulation problems, diabetes, or wearing a cast, brace, or splint.
How Do Bedsores Form in Nursing Homes?
Because the elderly are susceptible, bedsores in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are common. Sometimes these injuries are merely an accident. When this happens, nurses should be aware and monitor the pressure ulcer so it does not worsen.
However, pressure ulcers are almost always preventable. They often occur because a patient’s needs are ignored.
Nursing home staff members owe a specific duty of care to patients. Nurses should monitor residents to ensure they are safe and attended to. This means turning bedridden or chairbound patients so they are not in the same position for prolonged periods.
Staff should also report injuries and accidents accordingly. Sadly, however, necessary reporting is not always practiced. One study shows nursing homes did not self-report 40% of bedsore cases.
How Dangerous Are Bedsores if Left Untreated?
Complications for untreated bedsores are serious. An unmanaged ulcer can become infected, potentially causing fever, chills, swelling, and sepsis.
Sepsis is a life-threatening response to an infection. Occasionally referred to as blood poisoning, sepsis is more complex than that. The infection enters the bloodstream, but the immune system stops targeting the infection and instead attacks itself. This can lead to organ failure and death.
Symptoms of sepsis include:
- High fever or low body temperature
- Blood clots
- Trouble breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Decreased urination
- Skin discoloration
Nearly one-third of people with sepsis die. Bedsores are directly linked to sepsis. That is why it’s crucial to treat them before the sores progress.
Types of Bedsores
Bedsores are categorized based on severity. The four stages of bedsores are:
Stage 1 bedsores are the lowest category, where a pressure ulcer first forms. Symptoms include a reddened or darkened area of skin. When touched, the sore might feel warmer or cooler than in surrounding areas. Although bedsores at this stage are minor, they may go undetected easily. Stage 1 bedsores can then progress quickly to Stage 2.
In Stage 2, bedsores affect the top layers of skin. This type of pressure ulcer may appear as an open, shallow wound. It may also present as a closed, blister-like bubble. Stage 2 sores are painful and can begin to leak pus.
When Stage 3 bedsores occur, they affect the top layers of skin and fatty tissue. They appear as deep craters and are severely painful. The wounds may reveal inner body fat due to their depth.
Stage 3 requires extreme care, as it poses a high risk for infection.
Stage 4 is the most severe category of bedsores. These ulcers develop beyond skin layers and fat. Muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and bones can be visible.
Sores at this stage are very likely to become infected. Pain may be minimal or nonexistent due to the level of tissue damage. The chances of a full recovery are low.
Can I File a Lawsuit if My Elderly Relative Has Bedsores?
If your loved one was neglected and developed bedsores, you may file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Multiple parties could be held liable. The nursing home itself could be responsible, as well as the hospital your loved one was transferred to. Talking to a lawyer can help you figure out who to pursue and for how much.
Damages or types of compensation can include economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include compensation for medical bills or out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are compensation for losses that are not tangible, such as pain and suffering.
If your loved one dies from untreated bedsores, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
You Have Legal Rights if a Loved One Is Being Neglected
Should you discover an elderly relative is being neglected, act immediately. Document bedsore injuries through photos, videos, or medical records for evidence.
Make sure you consult with an attorney. They should know PA laws for nursing homes, medical malpractice, and negligence. When you choose the right lawyer for your case, they will help you hold the liable party accountable and help you earn maximum compensation.
Contact Our Nursing Home Bedsore Lawyers For Help
The dedicated and professional PA attorneys at Atlee Hall can provide the help you deserve. We understand how important your loved one is to you and how devastating it is when they’re hurt. That’s why we’re passionate about putting clients first.
We want to make Pennsylvania a safer place for everyone. That means forcing negligent parties to answer for their actions and bringing you justice. Call the bedsore injury lawyers at Atlee Hall today at (717) 393-9596 or contact us online for a free consultation.