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Bed Sores: A Possible Sign of Nursing Home Neglect

When you entrust the well-being of your loved one to a nursing home, you expect a high standard of care and attention. One sign that your loved one may be neglected is the presence of bed sores (also known as pressure sores and pressure ulcers) on their body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the year 2004 more than 10 percent of nursing home residents suffered from bed sores.

What are bed sores?

Bed sores are injuries caused by sustained pressure to the skin. They tend to develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body such as the buttocks, shoulders, hips and the back of the head. Bed sores are often caused by the person being immobile for long periods of time. They are categorized in four stages in ascending order of severity:

  • Stage One: Skin discoloration that is red for people with a light complexion and possibly blue or purple for those with a darker complexion — there is often pain or itching and the skin may feel warm, hard or spongy to the touch but is unbroken and does not turn white when pressed
  • Stage Two: Damage to the skin which looks like a wound, blister or shallow crater.
  • Stage Three: Damage to the full thickness of the skin which appears as a deep crater — the underlying layer of skin is also damaged but there is no bone or muscle damage.
  • Stage Four: Severe damage to the full thickness of the skin which may cause tissue to begin to die and damage to underlying bone or muscles — stage four bed sores can cause life-threatening infections

Bed sore prevention for nursing home residents

One of the best methods of preventing bed sores is to ensure that the resident’s position is regularly changed. Specially designed mattresses and cushions can be used to protect vulnerable areas. Proper nutrition is also important, since a healthy diet can help protect the skin and speed up the healing process. Treatment options vary — for mild cases, topical creams, ointments and gels can be used. In severe cases surgery may be required.

If you notice that your loved one has bed sores, bring it to the attention of the nursing home staff and request immediate treatment. It is possible that your loved one couldn’t be moved for a good medical reason and the bed sore was not preventable. However, if you believe your loved one was neglected by the nursing home staff, contact an experienced Pittsburgh nursing home abuse attorney.

At Fingeret Law we have the experience to assist you with a wide range of elder care legal matters. Call now to arrange a consultation.

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