Bed Sores and Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Homes
Pressure ulcers, or bedsores, plague the bedridden and the elderly. Bedsores are painful and dangerous. Bedsores can easily become infected and threaten the life of the patient. Moreover, healing the bedsore is very difficult. The patient must be periodically moved to relieve the pressure on the point where the sore developed. Nursing home doctors, nurses, and assistants must be cognizant of the problem at all times. However, the care at many nursing homes falls measurably below the appropriate standard of care. The nursing home that refuses or fails to treat bedsores might be committing nursing home abuse. The nursing home abuse attorneys with Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law understand how painful bedsores can be and how quickly one's life can deteriorate once bedsores develop.
Pressure ulcers develop in areas on a patient's body that is constantly in contact with a surface. If a patient does not move from time to time so that the pressure can move from one area of the body to another, then the patient is at a high risk for developing a bedsore. Bedsores can range in severity from redness to oozing, to literally eating through skin and bone. When that happens, the patient becomes stuck to bedding or whatever the body is contacting.
Pressure ulcers can develop all over the body. Commonly affected areas when a person is sitting in a chair are the tailbone and buttocks, shoulder blades and spine, as well as the backs of the person's arms and legs. When the patient is bedridden, the ulcers will develop on the head, shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, ankles, and legs. Pressure ulcers also grow behind the knee cap.
Nursing home staff must be vigilant about detecting and preventing bedsores. Competent staff will watch for signs of bedsores. This is most easily done while the patient is bathing or while the patient is changing his or her clothes. The person who is a candidate for developing bedsores most probably requires assistance to bathe and change. Therefore, the nursing home staff should examine the patient, document areas they appear to be pressure ulcers, and then modify the patient's position. Bedsores should improve in 24 to 48 hours after the patient's position is altered. However, that would apply to areas that appear to be irritated and have not deteriorated into an open wound.
Nursing home staff has an obligation to contact the patient's physician or seek emergency medical assistance if the wound worsens. Advanced medical intervention is needed when the wound is oozing with pus, bleeding, will not heal, or smells. The presence of those symptoms indicates an infection.
The causes of bedsores are well known. Pressure ulcers develop when the blood flow to the skin in an area on the body has slowed or stopped. The pressure on a location from body weight compressing it onto a surface ultimately restricts blood flow to the skin. Without blood flow, the skin dies when the area becomes oxygen-deprived. Additionally, sores can develop from friction in an isolated area. Another common cause of bedsores is called sheer. Sheer occurs when skin and material move in opposite directions.
Not only are the elderly in jeopardy of developing bedsores, patients who have lost feeling or cannot move are also at risk. Therefore, patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries who have lost sensory perception in regions of the body or others who are paralyzed are at risk for developing bedsores.
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