The presence of bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, often indicates nursing home abuse. An understaffed nursing home does not have the resources necessary to adequately care for elderly residents’ needs. The care they require includes repositioning, proper hygiene, nutrition, hydration, and attention to their skin when bedridden or in wheelchairs for most of the day.
Bed Sores and Nursing Homes
Nursing home residents suffering from bedsores is not uncommon. According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control, 11% of nursing home residents develop bedsores. Elderly nursing home residents that struggle with mobility issues, have no ability to reposition or move, or cannot feel any pain to know they need to reposition themselves have a much higher risk for developing bedsores. With most cases of bedsores resulting from nursing home abuse, you may have the right to receive compensation for your elderly loved one if they suffered bedsores while in the care of a nursing home.
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Typical Areas of the Body That Develop Bedsores
Bedsores develop where the skin covers bony areas of the body lacking internal padding such as muscle or fat. For people who use a wheelchair throughout the day, the areas most likely to have bedsores include the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, spine, and the backs of arms and legs where they rest on the wheelchair.
For those elderly residents that remain confined to a bed, the areas most likely to suffer from bedsores include the back or sides of the head, rim of ears, shoulders, shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, ankles, and even skin behind the knees.
Bedsores ultimately occur due to prolonged pressure against a bony prominence. This pressure results in the restriction of blood flow. Bedsores may develop quite quickly, even in less than two hours. Without proper prevention or medical treatment, bedsores may develop infections, including sepsis. In other cases, severe bedsores result in the death of tissue, known as necrosis.
Nursing Home Abuse and Bedsores
Bedsores of elderly nursing home residents typically result from nursing home abuse. There are three factors that typically cause and contribute to the severity of bedsores.
- Constant pressure on one part of an elderly person’s body with thin skin can lessen the blood flow to that area necessary for oxygen delivery and delivery of nutrients to support healthy tissue function.
- Friction when the elderly person’s skin rubs against another substance, such as clothing or bedding.
- Shear occurs when an elderly nursing home resident’s skin moves in direct opposition to another substance, such as an elevated bed. In this case, the skin over the tailbone may move in one direction while the tailbone may stay in the same place.
Whether it is pressure, friction, or shear, almost all bedsores in a nursing home environment occur due to the lack of attention paid to the elderly nursing home resident.
Appropriate Prevention of Bedsores from Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes have the moral and legal responsibility to ensure that their elderly residents remain safe and free from bedsores through appropriate prevention, monitoring, and care. The following are the precautions and actions a nursing home must take to ensure the prevention and/or development of bedsores for their elderly residents. Nursing home staff members must:
- Shift the weight and reposition those residents confined to beds and wheelchairs frequently.
- Remind residents regularly to reposition themselves if they have the physical ability to do so.
- Provide special wheelchairs that provide relief from pressure.
- Provide special cushions and mattresses to help elderly residents position themselves.
- Change the elevation of the bed periodically.
- Help residents walk if they need assistance to provide a break from their wheelchair.
- Bathe residents regularly to ensure that their skin is clean and dry.
- Ensure that elderly residents are free from urine, stool, and other kinds of moisture for any length of time.
- Use certain lotions or talcum powder to prevent shear or friction on the delicate and fragile skin of those nursing home residents who are more at risk for the development of bedsores.
- Inspect the skin of nursing home residents daily to prevent the occurrence of bedsores or immediately treat any that develop.
The absence of this kind of care by nursing home staff members often leads to bedsores. Ultimately, this is a form of nursing home abuse and is an illegal act. If your elderly loved one suffered from bedsores due to nursing home abuse, they may have the right to receive compensation for their injury and their pain and suffering.
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Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
Elderly residents of nursing homes should never suffer from bedsores. Typically, the appearance of bedsores on elderly loved ones in a nursing home is a direct result of neglect or abuse from the nursing home staff. If you feel neglect played a role in your loved one’s bedsores, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 201-3999 to help you with your next steps.