Bedsores – also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers – are a type of ulceration that can develop on a person who is bedridden and not repositioned regularly or properly.
Given that a considerable percentage of nursing home residents are bedridden and reliant on overworked staffers to ensure proper positioning, bedsores are a common problem in many nursing homes throughout Florida.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale nursing home abuse lawyers know this does not mean these wounds are inevitable. In fact, health care workers know the cause of this condition. They know exactly how to prevent it, or at least how to detect it early on so it does not progress. And yet, they continue to occur. This is negligence – plain and simple – and nursing homes need to be held to account when it happens.What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores are one of the many signs of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
The Mayo Clinic explains bedsores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue, caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. Depending on the circumstances and how the person is laying or sitting for long stretches of time, bedsores can manifest on different parts of the body. For example, someone who is confined to wheelchair may have different areas of the body that are likely to be affected than someone who is confined to their bed.
Areas of concern for Wheelchair Residents include:
- Buttocks and or tailbone area.
- Back of both arms and legs, in the areas of these parts that rest against the wheelchair for long stretches.
- The shoulder blades.
- The spine.
Areas of concern for Bedridden Residents include:
- Knees, heels and ankles.
- Hips and lower back.
- Shoulder blades and shoulders.
- Outside of the ears, particularly on the rims.
- The back and both sides of the head.
The majority of these bedsores, regardless of where they are on the body, are the result of some type of sustained pressure or friction. This is why residents who are confined to a wheelchair or to their bed need to be checked regularly for this condition – even if staffers are moving them regularly.Bedsore Medical Complications
Aside from the pain of the wound itself, bedsores, when left untreated, can cause a host of other conditions too. These may include:
- Bone and Joint Infections. Residents with bedsores are vulnerable to numerous types of infections. Bone and joint infections can potentially cause damage to cartilage and result in greatly restricted functioning of the joints.
- Cancer. In some cases, bedsores have been known to develop into squamous cell carcinoma, which typically requires surgical intervention.
- Cellulitis. This is a type of inflammation involving connective tissues. For those who get it as a result of bedsores, there is a high risk of meningitis, which can affect both the spinal cord and brain.
- Sepsis. This is another type of infection, a bacterial one that infiltrates the bloodstream or sometimes body tissues. Sepsis happens when bacteria gets into a person’s blood via open bedsores.
If a bedsore results in one of these conditions, the situation is extremely serious, and the individual requires immediate medical intervention. It’s probably wise too to consult with an attorney as well.Bedsores Are Preventable
It’s important to understand that bedsores – and these resulting conditions – are not the fault of the patient. These sores develop when patients do not get proper care, such as basic turning to relieve pressure or simple hygiene practices.
Medical professionals recommend:
- Changing position of wheelchair patients every 15 minutes and of bed-confined persons at least every 2 hours.
- Avoid laying patient directly on his or her hip bone.
- Avoid laying with the head raised higher than 30 degrees.
- Use pressure-reducing mattresses.
- Conduct inspections of skin daily, particularly in areas that are at high risk for developing pressure ulcers.
- Encourage some type of exercise daily. This keeps the blood flowing, and also promotes socialization and a positive mood.
- Keep skin both clean and dry. Change bandages every day.
- Seek immediate medical treatment for any skin damage, tenderness, foul smell or other signs of infections.
If someone you love has suffered as a result of a preventable bedsore in a South Florida nursing home, we can help.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.