Bed sores are a common and potentially life-threatening nursing home injury. Nursing home bed sores are usually avoidable. The often result from negligent care when staff members fail to reposition residents who are bed-bound or paralyzed. With a chair or mattress applying constant pressure, blood cannot carry adequate oxygen to that area of the body, causing the tissue to break down and die over a period of weeks or months. In addition to being very painful, bed sores can give rise to deadly complications, including infections, meningitis, septic shock, and even skin cancer.
If an elderly loved one developed bedsore injuries after admission into a nursing home or assisted living facility, you are urged to contact the nursing home bed sore lawyers of the Wieand Law Firm LLC about your family’s legal options for making a claim against the facility. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact our bed sore lawsuit attorneys for a free legal consultation, and continue reading to learn more about the different types of pressure ulcers that can develop in nursing home settings.
What Are the Different Stages of Pressure Sores (Decubitus Ulcers)?
Bed sores are also referred to as:
- Pressure Sores
- Pressure Ulcers
- Decubitus Ulcers
These terms all refer to the same type of injury and can be used interchangeably. The word “decubitus” is simply a reference to the posture one assumes when lying down. Though wheelchair users are also at risk, most people who develop nursing home bed sores are bed-bound or spend most of their time in a reclining position, which is where the term comes from.
Bed sore injuries are divided into five categories called “stages.” These stages are differentiated from each other based on how severe the wound is, similar to the way a third degree burn is more severe than a second degree burn.
- Stage 1 Bed Sores – Stage 1 is the beginning stage of a pressure ulcer injury. At this stage, the area feels sore and may appear discolored, but the skin remains closed. Stage 1 bed sores are reversible with prompt treatment.
- Stage 2 Bed Sores – Stage 2 bed sores penetrate deeper into the skin than Stage 1 pressure sores. The skin also opens at this stage, creating a blister or abscess. Permanent tissue damage may begin to occur. Additionally, because the wound opens at this stage, the risk of infection increases.
- Stage 3 Bed Sores – A Stage 3 bed sore is characterized by even deeper injury. At this stage, tissue damage penetrates past the skin all the way down to the layer of fat beneath, creating a hole or crater through which fat may be visible. The potential for fatal complications increases.
- Stage 4 Bed Sores – There is a serious risk of wrongful death by the time a pressure ulcer has advanced to Stage 4. Stage 4 pressure sores penetrate even deeper than Stage 3 pressure ulcers, damaging muscle fibers, tendons, bones, and joints, depending on the location of the wound.
- Unstageable Bed Sores – An unstageable bed sore is a pressure ulcer that is so severe it can no longer be categorized. The wound may appear grey, green, or black at this stage.
Common Sites for Pressure Ulcers
Pressure sores can also be categorized by the location where they occur on the body. The body parts most likely to develop bed sores are bony areas, or “bony prominences,” which include the:
- Shoulder blades
- Skull/back of the head
These injuries can often be avoided by protecting the skin vulnerable to developing a bed sore. For example, heel protectors can be applied to the ankles to protect the feet from ulcers in high risk patients.
Though less vulnerable to injury, more fatty or muscular areas can also develop decubitus ulcers. For example, pressure ulcers may form on the:
- Backs of the arms
- Backs of the legs
- Lower back
- Sides of the body
In short, pressure ulcers can develop on any body part that remains in continuous contact with a surface, even a soft surface like a mattress. Pressure sores can also be caused by prolonged chafing from medical devices, such as oxygen tubes that constantly press against the resident’s cheeks.
Contact a Nursing Home Bed Sore Injury Lawyer
Despite injuring and killing thousands of nursing home patients each year, bed sores are usually preventable with diligent care. In many instances, the development of bed sores can be attributed to inexperience, inadequate supervision, intentional abuse, neglect caused by under-staffing, unsanitary nursing home conditions, or a combination of many different deficiencies and violations.
Nursing homes and assisted living centers have a duty to prevent residents from sustaining avoidable injuries, and should be investigated thoroughly whenever a patient develops decubitus ulcers. If a resident’s bed sores were caused by abuse or neglect, the nursing home may be liable for medical expenses, physical pain, and emotional distress.
The Wieand Law Firm LLC is dedicated to holding negligent nursing homes and assisted living facilities accountable when vulnerable senior citizens are injured or killed while under their care. We can fight to recover compensation for your family and obtain the justice your elderly loved one deserves. For a free legal consultation about a bed sore settlement, lawsuit, or injury claim, contact the nursing home neglect attorneys of Wieand Law Firm LLC today.