While they take a while to develop, pressure sores (also referred to as pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers, or bedsores) are a clear sign that long-term care institutions are providing poor care to its residents or patients. Unfortunately, in recent years the number of pressure sores amongst nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospital patients has drastically increased. In fact, studies show patients are far more likely to develop pressure sores today than they were a decade ago.
What is the cause behind these pressure sores?
The reason that these pressure sores are associated with inadequate care is because they develop because of unrelieved pressure over an extended period on the bony parts of the body. As the pressure builds up, it restricts the blood flow. As a result, the tissue and skin that does not receive the blood it needs begins to die. This gradually leads to a wound in that area.
Where do these sores develop in nursing home and hospital patients?
Oftentimes these pressure sores will develop in parts of the body that have little tissue or muscle to mitigate the weight of the body. Especially over a longer period, these areas are far more prone to developing issues. Even though these problems may occur anywhere on the body, the most likely areas that these problems may develop include:
- The back of the head
- The back
- The heels
- The buttocks
Other factors contributing to the development of decubitus ulcers
The lack of movement and positioning are two major factors in the development of pressure sores, but personal hygiene and the patient’s overall health also play an important role. Dehydration and poor nutrition may hinder the body’s ability to heal and may negatively affect skin health. Oftentimes neglect and maltreatment can lead to a patient sitting in his or her own feces and urine or left in wet bedding and/or clothing. Again, this can deteriorate the skin and lead to the development of pressure sores.
Further complications related to open pressure sores
When the pressure is never relieved and combined with conditions such malnourishment and incontinence, chances of a developing pressure sores increase dramatically. Despite the pain that will accompany these pressure sores, it also opens the door to further serious medical complications. These may include:
- Amputation of affected body part
Early detection is important to the treatment of pressure ulcers
In order to be able to deal with these pressure sores as effectively as possible, it is important to identify them at the earliest possible stage. The deeper tissue they affect, the harder it becomes for the skin to heal. Ultimately, the best thing is to never have these sores develop in the first place.
Hold the facility responsible for the negligent care of your loved one
When someone is in the care of a medical facility or nursing home, it is that facility’s responsibility to ensure that these pressure sores do not develop. Basic prevention methods include:
- Regularly moving patients at consistent intervals
- Preventing malnutrition and dehydration
- Making sure the patients remain dry and clean
- Using specialized cushions or mattresses to relieve pressure for high-risk patients
Be aware of the dangers. Bed sores can be fatal.
The majority of the time, pressure sores develop because the facility is not doing an adequate job of providing patient care. Oftentimes the underlying cause is inadequate training of staff or under-staffing. Remember that it is their responsibility to provide adequate care, but being aware of the conditions may make it possible to avoid the problem from developing altogether.
Lawyers Who Take Bed Sore Cases Seriously
There still is a feeling that amongst some in the medical-legal community that bed sore cases simply don’t have much value and aren’t worth prosecuting. To the contrary, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers recognizes bed sores as one of the most visible signs of poor care in nursing homes and other medical facilities. Typically, bed sores are a tragic emblem of a system that is broken– where patient needs take a distant position after facilities tend to their profitability. We also are mindful of the devastating impact these wounds have on the individual and their family. Our experience litigating bed sore cases has earned us a reputation as attorneys willing to do what it takes to hold facilities fully responsible for these horrendous injuries that can contribute to complications or even death. We invite you to talk with us as soon as you become aware of the presence of a pressure sore on your loved one.