Bedsores, which are also called “pressure sores,” “pressure ulcers,” or “decubitus ulcers,” are a common nursing home injury capable of causing severe pain, infection, disfigurement, and death. They are caused by prolonged contact between the victim’s skin and a surface, often a mattress. The unrelieved pressure gradually disrupts blood flow and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching the affected tissue. This lack of oxygen eventually causes the tissue to die, generally over a period of weeks or months. Bed sore injuries are preventable, and typically develop because nursing home staff members fail to reposition immobile or bed-bound residents with sufficient frequency.
This article explains how pressure ulcers progress from minor injuries to devastating, life-threatening medical emergencies. If you are worried that your elderly parent, spouse, or family member is suffering from pressure sore injuries, you should seek medical help and contact an experienced nursing home bed sore lawyer for legal assistance. Your loved one may be able to recover financial compensation. For a free and confidential legal consultation about how to handle a nursing home injury, contact us today.
Stage 1 Bed Sores (Pressure Sores, Decubitus Ulcers)
Though capable of quick progression, pressure sores do not spontaneously appear overnight. On the contrary, the early stages of a bed sore injury can be rather subtle. Initially, the patient may not even realize that a pressure ulcer is developing. This may happen if the patient is suffering from a cognitive disorder, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, or due to side effects of certain medications. Reduced physical sensation, which may be present in residents with nerve damage from injuries or diabetes, is another factor that can interfere with a senior’s ability to perceive a bed sore in its early phases.
Because a nursing home resident may be unaware of his or her own condition, it is imperative to keep a watchful eye on any elderly relative who seems to be exhibiting the early signs and symptoms of bed sore injuries. But what are those signs, and what should a family member be on the lookout for?
The first sign of a pressure sore is persistent pain or tenderness in a localized area, typically though not always a bony spot like the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, or ankles. The area may appear reddish or pink in people with light skin, while the sore may take on a blueish or purplish hue in people with darker skin. Though tender and painful, the skin is still closed at this point, and the injury can be reversed simply by alleviating pressure on the affected area.
In these early stages of development, bed sores are still categorized as Stage 1. Without intervention, bed sores can progress through more dangerous levels – Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 or an “unstageable” phase. These more severe wounds may result in severe pain, infection or cause death, depending on the severity of the complications that arise.
Stage 2 Bed Sores
As the injury progresses, the victim develops what are known as Stage 2 bed sores, which are more severe and have different symptoms than Stage 1 bed sores. While Stage 1 bed sores remain closed, the skin breaks open at Stage 2, heightening the patient’s risk of infection. At the same time, the sore also penetrates into a deeper layer of tissue, reaching beyond the epidermis (outermost layer of skin) into the dermis beneath. In addition to becoming more painful, a Stage 2 bed sore also takes on a different appearance, transforming from an irritated patch of skin into an open abrasion or blister.
Even at Stage 2, pressure ulcers are generally treatable. Stage 2 pressure ulcer treatment typically involves alleviating pressure on the affected area and rinsing the area with a saline solution.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Help
You should review your family’s legal options with a nursing home neglect lawyer if you are concerned that an elderly loved one is being neglected or mistreated by his or her caregivers. The victim may have a cause of action, or legal grounds to file a claim or lawsuit. He or she could be entitled to financial compensation for his or her medical bills, pain and suffering, and other hardships and losses caused by the bed sore injury. In cases where advanced bed sores led to the death of a nursing home resident, a wrongful death attorney can investigate the circumstances of the resident’s death, and fight for compensation for the victim’s family, including compensation for funeral and burial expenses.
Nursing home residents have legal rights. The nursing home injury lawyers of the Wieand Law Firm LLC are here to protect those rights while pursuing justice for vulnerable seniors. For a free and confidential legal consultation with an experienced nursing home bed sore attorney, contact us today.