Is your loved one currently in a nursing home? Did you discover that they are suffering from painful bedsores as a result of neglect or abuse at the hands of facility employees, managers, or owners? If so, let the Lexington nursing home abuse lawyers of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP help you put a stop to this mistreatment and neglect.
Also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, and decubitus ulcers, bedsores are lesions or injuries to the skin or underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Bedsores are most common near bony areas of the skin, such as the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone, which experience more friction than padded areas. The patients most vulnerable to developing bedsores are those 75 years of age or older.
Nursing home patients who are unable to leave their beds must be turned and repositioned periodically to prevent bedsores from developing. Bedsores are a serious problem. They can lead to severe injury, infection, amputation, or death. These wounds are evidence of serious neglect by an elder care facility, and a resident or their loved ones may be entitled to file a lawsuit against a facility responsible for this type of injury.
If you suspect that your loved one has developed bedsores as a result of negligent care or treatment in a nursing home or another elder care facility, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP for help. Our team of nursing home abuse attorneys in Lexington, KY has the right knowledge, skill, and resources to help put a stop to this neglect and help your family get justice. Contact us or call us at (859) 550-2900 to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.
Symptoms of Bedsores
There are several stages of bedsores, categorized based on their severity and depth. The level of damage can range from red, unbroken skin to an injury that reaches the muscle and bone.
Those who are confined to a wheelchair could develop sores in their tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, spine, and the backs of arms and legs where they press against the chair.
Those confined to a bed can develop sores on the back or sides of their head, the shoulder blades, the hips, lower back, and tailbone, or on the heels, ankles, and behind the knees.
Some common symptoms of bedsores include:
- Change in skin texture
- Draining of pus-like fluid
- Skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than normal
- Tender areas of skin
If your loved one complains of painful bedsores or if you notice these symptoms when visiting them, be sure to contact a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer right away.
Causes of Bedsores
Bedsores often develop when nursing home staff fail to provide adequate attention and care to bedridden residents. Some common causes of these sores include:
- Pressure: The primary cause of bedsores is prolonged pressure on the skin, which restricts blood flow to the tissue in the affected area. Blood is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissue. Without blood flow, the tissue will become damaged and could eventually die.
- Friction: When the skin rubs against bed sheets or clothes, friction can damage already fragile skin.
- Shear: This refers to two surfaces moving in opposite directions, such as a person’s body sliding against the bed when the head is elevated. This pulls at the skin and causes it to rub against bone, causing further damage.
Some contributing factors to bedsores include:
- Immobility – If a patient is unable to move on their own, they must be repositioned or turned to keep vulnerable areas of the skin from experiencing pressure for long periods.
- Physical conditions restricting blood flow – Diabetes, vascular disease, and other disorders that restrict blood flow can increase the risk of bedsores.
- Lack of sensation – An inability to feel pain or discomfort, as occurs with spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders, can cause someone to ignore warning signs that they should change position.
- Poor nutrition and dehydration – A proper diet and the right amount of vitamins, fluids, and nutrients keep skin and tissues healthy and less likely to break down.
- Moist skin – If a patient hasn’t had a diaper change or been helped to the bathroom, moisture remaining on the skin can contribute to damage and lead to bedsores.
Complications Caused by Bedsores
In some cases, bedsores can result in even more serious health complications, including:
- Infection in bones and joints – An infection that begins with a bedsore can move into the bones, causing osteomyelitis, or joints, causing septic arthritis. This can cause further damage and reduce limb function.
- Cellulitis – The skin and soft tissues may become infected and develop cellulitis, causing redness and swelling.
- Cancer – Long-lasting wounds can develop into a form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.
- Sepsis – In rare cases, a skin sore can develop into sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight infection, but the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance. Sepsis is particularly common in older adults.
How Can Bedsores be Prevented?
With adequate care, residents can avoid developing bedsores. In general, this condition can be prevented by:
- Keeping skin clean and dry – Moist skin is prone to damage. Wash skin regularly with a gentle cleanser and pat dry.
- Shift weight frequently– If using a wheelchair, shift body weight once every 15 minutes. Ask for help changing positions once per hour.
- Consider using a specialized wheelchair – Some wheelchairs can be tilted, which can help relieve pressure in problem areas.
- Use cushions or a mattress that will relieve pressure – Pillows, cushions, or a specialty mattress might help to alleviate pressure or change positions. Avoid donut cushions, which focus pressure on surrounding areas.
- Inspect skin daily – Look for warning signs of a pressure sore, and treat as soon as possible to prevent further skin damage.
- Adjust bed elevation – If elevating the head of the bed, do not raise it more than 30 degrees, to prevent shearing.
If you or a loved one have experienced neglect by a nursing home or elder care facility and have developed bedsores, you may be eligible to take legal action. Depending on your state, you may need to file a report of abuse with police or with an agency or department of social services. It is essential to obtain medical records and take pictures of any sores or other injuries.
If your loved one is indeed experiencing neglect, they should be moved to another facility right away. In the case of a loved one’s death from bedsore injuries, you may decide to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Elder abuse cases can be complicated, and you should hire an attorney with experience in elder abuse cases and nursing home law.
Contact Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP today for help with your nursing home abuse case
If your loved one is in a nursing home and has developed bedsores due to neglect, please call the Lexington nursing home abuse attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP for help immediately. Patients and residents of nursing homes deserve respect and dignity, and should not have to suffer a lack of care due to negligence. They need someone to stand up for their rights. We can investigate and build a strong case for compensation. Call Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP today at (859) 550-2900 for a free consultation.