Bedsores, or pressure sores, are open ulcers that result from constant pressure and the reduction of blood flow in a particular area. They commonly occur when illnesses, injuries, and/or the aging process confines individuals to beds and wheelchairs for prolonged periods. Bedsores are painful. They can open the body to infection, and they take far longer to heal than to develop.
The Development of Bedsores
Bedsores can develop in any area of the body subject to prolonged pressure. Elbows, hips, the tailbone, and other lean areas of the body are particularly vulnerable to pressure sores. They can also occur in areas that endure prolonged exposure to medical devices.
A bedsore can start forming within a week of prolonged bed rest and will worsen over time without treatment. The sores first appear as a discolored area on the skin. They may burn, itch, or cause pain, and the area may feel different from typical, healthy skin. If caught in the first stage of development, a pressure sore may take only a few days to heal.
Stage 2 bedsores break the skin or appear blister-like and cause more pain than stage 1 sores. They can take many days or weeks to heal. Stage 3 sores affect the skin and underlying tissues, creating a painful and smelly cavity in the skin. The tissue may start to die and blacken in this stage. Stage 4 sores can reach the muscles and may take years to heal.
Progressive sores increase the likelihood of secondary infections and often require ongoing medical care. They can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions such as cellulitis, sepsis, and cancer. The experience of a later-stage bedsore is miserable. It can further reduce the quality of life of a bedridden individual. For older individuals, a bedsore can significantly shorten life expectancies.
Common Causes of Bedsores
These ulcers can create life-threatening conditions, but they are also highly preventable. A lack of movement, poor hygiene, and inadequate nutrition can all contribute to the development of bedsores. Those with some level of mobility can make slight readjustments, engage in minor exercises, and take other steps to reduce the likelihood of bedsore development.
Sadly, neglect is often the cause of bedsores. Immobile individuals cannot take the same preventative actions on their own. Those who suffer from certain injuries, illnesses, and the frailty of old age often rely heavily on caretakers to help them change positions, identify skin condition changes, maintain hygiene, and prevent the stage 1 bedsores from progressing.
In the field of personal injury law, cases involving bedsores often include instances of nursing home neglect and abuse. When caregivers ignore the health of aging and immobile residents, they create the perfect environment for developing ulcers. In healthcare environments, understaffing, poor training, and inadequate hiring practices can all contribute to caretaker negligence and neglect.
What to Do If You See a Bedsore on a Loved One
If your loved one receives ongoing professional health care, the care team should take steps to minimize the likelihood of bedsores. They should adjust patient positions every two hours, provide pressure-relieving pillows and supports, and immediately address the first signs of bedsore development.
The presence of a bedsore raises some serious red flags. If you notice a bedsore, talk to the management team about bedsore prevention tactics and discuss your loved one’s condition with a trusted physician. If you feel that neglect or negligence contributed to the development of a serious bedsore, consider talking to a caring Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer about your claim. No one who cannot move independently should have to endure a bedsore because of someone else’s failure to provide reasonable care.