Bedsores, often called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, occur when an individual is bedridden or lacks the ability to regularly reposition themselves. The pressure caused when a body part meets the surface of a bed or wheelchair can cut off the blood supply and damage the skin. A negligent or inattentive nursing home staff is often the cause of this devastating condition.
Elderly nursing home residents often lack the mobility necessary to reposition themselves on a regular basis. In these situations, the nursing home staff must reposition the resident every two to three hours to ensure a healthy flow of blood. When this does not occur, the blood supply cuts off and the skin dies. This damaged area is a bedsore. If left untreated, bedsores can progress through four stages of increasing severity, including:
- First stage: At the very beginning, the bedsores will appear red and feel warm to the touch. The resident will likely experience a burning sensation, pain or itchy skin.
- Second stage: The bedsore will appear to have more visible damage. The area might take on the appearance of an open sore, scrape or blister. The resident will likely experience significant pain.
- Third stage: As the damage increases, it also impacts the area below the skin. The bedsore will become indented or cratered as muscle and fat are damaged.
- Fourth stage: At this stage, an elderly nursing home resident risks a serious infection. A stage four bedsore is associated with muscle, tissue, bone and joint damage. The impacted area is a large open wound characterized by severe pain, discoloration and pus.
Based on the resident’s body position, bedsores can appear on the back, shoulder blades, buttocks, hips, back of the head, heels of the feet or areas around the knees. As the injury progresses, a bedsore can lead to permanent damage, loss of function and amputation. An experienced, attentive nursing home staff can recognize these symptoms and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, a negligent staff can introduce complications and unnecessary pain and suffering.