One of the most basic responsibilities of nursing home staff is to pay attention to their patients. But if someone is left in the same position for too long, they can develop bedsores. Patients should not develop these sores, and they usually require immediate medical attention. These injuries also indicate that the patient has been the victim of neglect. Hale & Monico helps injured nursing home patients and their families get the justice they deserve.
Bedsores, also called pressure sores, are injuries that often develop in bedridden or immobile nursing home patients. The pressure of the patient’s weight restricts blood flow to the skin, causing tissue to die and open into a wound. While this injury is bad enough, it often leads to further complications such as infection.
These are not minor infections, either. They can take months or even years to heal, and they can aggravate existing health problems. In some cases, a bedsore can be fatal, especially if the patient is older or in poor health.
Several areas of the body are particularly prone to develop bedsores, such as:
- Lower back and tailbone
- Back or side of the head
- Shoulder blades
Symptoms of Bedsores
The most common symptoms of bedsores are:
- Sore or tender areas of the skin
- Unusual changes in skin color
- Changes in skin texture
- Pus-like draining
- Skin that feels warmer or cooler to the touch relative to other areas
There are many reasons these injuries occur. One is a general lack of sanitation in the nursing home facility. Tragically, many nursing home residents are left in their own waste. This happens because of inattentive staff who don’t monitor and clean their patients. Urine is very acidic and can break down the skin, thereby increasing the likelihood of developing into bedsores.
Malnutrition and dehydration can also make a patient susceptible to bedsores. These conditions weaken the body and make the skin more brittle. Failing to change wet and dirty sheets, linens, and clothing can also cause issues due to constant friction with the skin. Again, these problems are often the result of nurses and staff not paying attention to their patients.
Left untreated, a bedsore can turn into an ulcer and cause irreversible skin damage. If the injury further deteriorates, it can reach into the muscle, causing extensive injury to tissue, tendons, and joints. This risks serious infection and sepsis, a dangerous and often fatal condition.
Bedsores are difficult to treat, so if you notice a loved one with the above symptoms, you should act quickly. These injuries almost always point to some form of negligence on the part of staff. Nursing homes owe their patients an obligation to treat them with care, especially if they suffer from health conditions that make bedsores more likely. An injured patient will typically need costly and extensive medical care to recover, and neither they nor their families should have to bear this burden just because the staff was negligent.