Bedsores, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, can be very serious. Unfortunately, elderly nursing home residents and hospital patients are typically the ones who develop them. Bedsores are painful and result from putting too much pressure, for too long, on an area of the body that has a bone and a thin covering of flesh – such as the tailbone, heels, elbows, and shoulder blades.
A variety of factors cause bedsores, including:
- Skin moisture due to unchanged diapers and wet sheets
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Residents staying in one position for too long
To prevent decubitus ulcers, residents must be turned and repositioned frequently. Nursing home staff need to help those who cannot move on their own to turn and reposition themselves every two hours to prevent skin breakdown.
Bedsores may not seem that serious, but they can be fatal. Even scarier is that as many as a quarter of nursing home residents fall victim to bedsores at some point during their stay. Residents at high risk for pressure sores include those who are:
- Age 75 and older
- Having problems with feeding or are totally unable to feed themselves
- Relatively immobile or need help repositioning themselves
- Unable to sense the need to reposition
- Suffering from decreased mental state
- Suffering from dry skin
- Incontinent (can't control going to the bathroom)
- Being treated for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis
The law requires that nursing homes must ensure that resident do not develop bedsores, unless the residents medical conditions show that the bedsores were unavoidable. It is also important to note that the law also requires the nursing home to keep bedsores from progressing while the resident is staying at the nursing home.
Bedsore Abuse Prevention Tips
Because most bedsores are preventable, taking measures to prevent them is important.
- Because malnutrition and dehydration can cause decubitus ulcers, make sure your loved one is getting enough food and water.
- Because spending a lot of time in bed makes a person prone to bedsores, nursing home residents should get as much exercise as possible to increase mobility. Consult your loved one's physician and request placement in a physical conditioning or rehabilitation program that might include exercises to improve strength and endurance, physical therapy, a walking program, or gait training.
- Request grab bars and other devices so that repositioning is easier for the resident.
- Take care of your loved one's skin, or make sure that the nursing home is taking this care. Ask your doctor to suggest a good lotion to keep skin moist and supple.
- If your loved one is incontinent, make sure adult diapers are changed regularly and that sheets are dry and clean.
- Always pay attention to the ratio of staff to residents. Because understaffing is a problem linked to poor care, you should always be concerned about how many staff members are available to care for your loved one.
If someone you care about has developed a pressure sore while in a nursing home, you should:
- Tell their doctor immediately, and discuss causes, cures, and future prevention techniques.
- Get your loved one emergency medical help at a hospital immediately. Remember that decubitus ulcers are serious and can be life-threatening.
- If you believe the nursing home was responsible for the pressure sores, submit a complaint with the nursing home administration. Consider contacting the organizations listed on our nursing home phone resources and nursing home online resources pages. And, be sure to contact the Pennsylvania law firm of Edgar Snyder & Associates for a free legal consultation – to find out if your loved one has a nursing home abuse case.
Bedsore Injury Claims
If you, or your loved one, suffered from bedsores – and you believe the nursing home is to blame – know that nursing home abuse cases can be very complicated. That's why you need the help of experienced lawyers and a law firm that has the resources to gather the right evidence and build a solid case.
If you hire Edgar Snyder & Associates, we will work to answer the following questions:
- What was the resident's skin condition before admission to the nursing home?
- What medical problems did the resident have? Some medical problems such as diabetes, kidney failure, and paralysis place the resident at risk of developing bedsores.
- Was good care provided, such as turning and proper positioning of a patient, use of devices to relieve pressure such as special mattresses, beds, and padding to protect areas at risk for breakdown?
- Was the resident kept clean and dry to prevent skin breakdown?
- Did the resident receive adequate nutrition and fluids?
- Was the resident identified as being at risk for pressure sores, and if so, was a preventative care plan was implemented?
- How many bedsores developed, how severe, and where are they located on the body?
- Was a doctor and/or wound care specialist consulted and were they were actively and consistently involved in treatment?
- Is there accurate documentation in the medical chart of skin assessments, turning and repositioning, and treatment of decubitus ulcers?
- Are there pictures of the bedsores?
- Did the bedsores lead to serious complications such as infection, amputation, and sepsis (the spread of the infection to the bloodstream) that can lead to death?