When we drop off our loved ones at a nursing home we trust that they will receive the loving care and supervision that they need to thrive. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Poor care, lack of supervision, and understaffing can all lead to medical problems in the elderly. Many people consider bedsores to be common injuries, but they should not occur when patients are receiving adequate care. Bedsores are a sign of nursing home neglect; they should never happen when proper care is being provided. A qualified attorney will help you determine whether you have a case.
Bedsores can occur anywhere on the body that is touching the bed and is under pressure. For example, they often appear on the elbows, heels, and tailbone. They can also occur in areas where the skin is in contact with medical equipment, such as tubing. Some people may acquire only one such sore, while others may get multiple sores at the same time, in different areas of the body. They begin as very minor-looking red marks, but they can be extremely painful. Proper precautions must be made at the first sight of bedsores because they can quickly worsen.
Stages of Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers are categorized into four stages. These classifications are:
- Stage I – Stage I sores appear on the top layers of skin and may look like small red marks. The areas may be painful, but the skin is intact, and not yet broken. The skin in that area may be warm to the touch.
- Stage II – In Stage II sores, the skin begins to break open. The area may appear like a minor scrape or blister, and may even appear to have some clear fluid inside. It is deeper, and more tender than before, and at this stage may be quite painful.
- Stage III – Stage III sores are deepening and beginning to affect the tissue beneath the skin. During this stage, the pain may actually begin to subside, however, the wound will continue to deepen and could become infected if left untreated.
- Stage IV – Stage IV pressure ulcers are in the final stage. The sores are deep and may extend all the way down to the tendons or bones. There is a distinct open wound, which is likely to become infected.
It is of utmost importance to notice bedsores immediately as they form. Daily inspection of the critical areas should be completed to ensure that pressure ulcers are not beginning to form. Medical treatment is needed for all stages of bedsores. Care providers should be taught what to look for and how to determine whether a bedsore exists. If someone is unsure whether a mark is a bedsore or not, a physician should examine the patient and make a determination. Prompt treatment of bedsores can help to prevent them from worsening and causing serious damage or death.
Bedsores require medical intervention. A doctor will make a diagnosis and will provide a method of treatment. Treatment may include topical antibiotics, or an antibiotic prescription. It is essential that bedsores are not allowed to become worse. Caregivers must be extremely vigilant about ensuring that the patient is turned or repositioned in bed many times each day. This is of particular concern for patients who are unable to move on their own. Stage III and Stage IV pressure ulcers can be very difficult to treat, even with antibiotics.
Serious Consequences of Bedsores
Bedsores can become extremely serious, and even life-threatening to older people. The elderly often have weakened immune systems, and other medical problems that could make bedsores harmful. Once bedsores become infected they are considered serious and need further medical attention. Even the strongest antibiotic medications may not work, and the infection could spread. If the infection spreads into the bloodstream it is called sepsis – an extremely dangerous medical emergency.
Because of their serious nature, bedsores must be prevented. This means that bedridden individuals and those who have limited mobility must be repositioned and moved in bed by staff. The importance of this movement cannot be overstated. Additionally, those who are susceptible to bedsores should make sure that their diets help to boost their immune system. Should an infection begin, their bodies will be better able to fight it off. It is also essential for caregivers to check for bedsores on a daily basis. It is best not to allow a bedsore to progress without treatment.
Bedsores Mean Neglectful Care
The presence of bedsores in a nursing home is an indication of neglectful care. Patients should never be allowed to develop these types of injuries. When they do, it usually means that the facility does not properly move the patient, and that they are not as careful as they should be in providing regular daily care. If a bedsore is not immediately noticed, it is a signal that the care is not adequate. Further, the facility should be providing medical treatment immediately for all types of injuries, including bedsores.
Nursing Home Neglect
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is a serious concern in the United States. About half of all nursing home residents will be affected by some type of abuse or neglect while living in a facility. This number may actually be low, because a surprising number of nursing home neglect cases go unreported. Many patients are too sick to report the issues, or they may not even realize what is happening. Relatives should be involved in making sure that their loved ones are receiving the care they should. When improper care is provided, it is often considered neglect.
Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit
Neglectful care can cause serious injuries or death. When this happens, the victim or his relatives may be entitled to compensation for the damages. Damages may include such things as money for medical treatment and for pain and suffering. Other damages may also apply. If you or a loved one was harmed because of neglect in a nursing home, contact the experienced Columbia personal injury legal team at the Connell Law Firm to schedule a consultation.