Sacral ulcers are serious nursing home injuries that develop on the upper buttocks and lower back due to negligent care. Sacral ulcers are usually preventable. If an elderly loved one developed one of these injuries, the nursing home or assisted living facility may be liable for neglect. Financial compensation could be available for your loved one’s medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, and emotional anguish. In cases where a sacral ulcer leads to the wrongful death of a nursing home resident, compensation is also available for funeral and burial expenses.
Nursing homes should be held accountable when residents develop sacral ulcers or other types of bed sore injuries. However, you don’t have to go through the legal process alone. The experienced nursing home abuse lawyers of the Wieand Law Firm LLC can help pursue justice and compensation for your family by filing a claim or lawsuit against the facility where the injury occurred. Vulnerable seniors deserve care and protection, and our attorneys will fight to see that nursing homes are held to accountable when patients are injured or killed. For a free and completely confidential legal consultation, contact us today.
What is a Sacral Decubitus Ulcer?
The term “sacral decubitus ulcer” is unfamiliar to most people. The word “sacral” refers to the sacrum, the triangular bone that runs from the base of the spinal column down through the center of the pelvis, between the two circular hip bones. The sacrum plays several important anatomical roles, providing stability and support for the spine while simultaneously protecting the spinal nerves of the lower back.
The term “decubitus ulcer” is simply another name for a bed sore, pressure sore, or pressure ulcer. These terms are all interchangeable. “Decubitus” describes the posture assumed when a person is lying down, which is how most people develop pressure ulcers.
A sacral decubitus ulcer is a bed sore that develops in the sacral area, meaning the area where the upper buttocks meet the lower back. Unlike the lower part of the buttocks, this area tends to be fairly bony, with minimal padding or protection from fat and muscle. This increases the risk that a sore will develop.
Regardless of where they are located on the body, all pressure sores develop from sustained contact with a surface. The pressure exerted by the surface prevents oxygen from reaching that body part, eventually causing tissue damage or death. This can lead to deadly complications, including infections like sepsis and meningitis. Pressure sores can be prevented simply by regularly turning or repositioning patients who are paralyzed or bed-bound.
Sacral Pressure Sore Stages
All decubitus ulcers, including sacral decubitus ulcers, are separated into five groups or “stages.” Stages are used to indicate the severity of the injury, similar to how burn injuries are categorized. Just as second degree burns are worse than first degree burns, Stage 2 bed sores are worse than Stage 1 bed sores.
Sacral pressure ulcers can be categorized in the following ways, depending on how far the injury has advanced and the characteristics of the wound:
- Stage 1 Sacral Ulcers – At Stage 1, the skin is still closed, but may be sore to the touch and slightly discolored. At this early stage, sacral ulcers are generally reversible with prompt treatment.
- Stage 2 Sacral Ulcers – A Stage 2 sacral ulcer is deeper and more painful than a Stage 1 pressure sore. The skin tears open at this stage, increasing the likelihood of infection, complicating recovery, and worsening the patient’s prognosis. The ulcer may look like a blister or abscess at this stage of development.
- Stage 3 Sacral Ulcers – A Stage 3 sacral ulcer is a potentially life-threatening injury that may require painful and expensive treatment, such as debridement and surgery. At this stage, the wound deepens even further, reaching past the skin and into the fat below. Fatty tissue may be visible in the hole or crater created by the open sore.
- Stage 4 Sacral Ulcers – Stage 4 sacral decubitus ulcers pose a serious risk of death. The patient may develop sepsis, severe sepsis, or enter septic shock. At this stage, the wound reaches even further into the body, penetrating past skin and fat all the way down to muscle and bone. Joints and tendons can also be permanently damaged.
- Unstageable Sacral Ulcers – An unstageable sacral decubitus ulcer is a sore that is so severe it cannot be placed into the categories above. The wound may take on a greenish, greyish, or black appearance.
Contact a Nursing Home Bed Sore Lawsuit Lawyer for Help
Nursing home sacral decubitus ulcers are frequently caused by neglect, which is often a product of under-staffing, inexperience, inadequate supervision of staff members, or a combination of all three factors. In some cases, staff may even intentionally neglect patients’ basic medical needs, which is a form of nursing home abuse.
State and federal laws exist to protect nursing home residents from being neglected or abused by the caregivers they depend on. If your mother, father, grandparent, spouse, or other loved one developed a sacral pressure ulcer following admission into a nursing home, an assisted living center, or any other care facility for seniors, his or her legal rights were violated, and the facility should be held accountable.
To discuss your family’s legal options for filing a claim or lawsuit against the facility where the injury occurred, contact the Wieand Law Firm LLC immediately for a free and confidential consultation.