Untreated Bedsores: Frequent Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Far too often, older Americans living in nursing homes must fight hard to obtain quality care for their chronic conditions. Many of them are also battling poorly treated diabetes, auto-immune diseases – and even different cancers. What’s even worse is that our American healthcare system often adds insult to injury – when nursing home employees fail to provide daily care needs like regularly helping patients shift positions in their beds so they can avoid developing painful bedsores.
In hospital settings, failing to help disabled or immobile patients routinely change bodily positions to avoid creating serious pressure sores can give rise to medical malpractice lawsuits. This same oversight committed by lazy or inattentive nursing home employees can constitute nursing home abuse. Since bedsores can quickly become severely infected and cause immense pain – all medical caregivers must proactively help patients prevent such sores from ever forming.
What Exactly Are Bedsores and Where Do They Often Form?
Sometimes called pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, and pressure ulcers – bedsores often form on patients’ bodies who have serious skin conditions – often traceable to poor diets that are low in vitamins and other nutrients. People who are paralyzed or forced to lie still for long periods of time (such as those in traction or wearing casts) are especially prone to developing bedsores.
Likewise, diabetic patients often have poor blood circulation that can directly cause tissue deterioration — this in turn break down their outer skin layers, making them more susceptible to bed sores and other painful skin conditions.
Although bed sores can form in many places, they tend to most often appear on a patient’s hips, back, buttocks, and ankles. They can also develop on the inside areas of a person’s knees, the back of the head, on the shoulders, and on elbows.
Patients’ pressure ulcers can grow progressively worse, passing through different stages of skin damage.
What Are the Most Common Stages That Bedsores Move Through?
- Stage One. During this stage, a patient’s skin may still be intact, although the sores can already be hurting – and feel warm to the touch, even if the skin color appears normal;
- Stage Two. As the outer skin deteriorates, the pressure sore may even look like a painful blister – perhaps appearing rather pink in color. You may be able to see what look like “craters” in the skin surface;
- Stage Three. At this point, the sores are viewed as deep wounds and must be regularly cleaned. The patient must also shift positions to avoid further damage to the skin. You may be able to even see some fat and dead tissue around the infected skin areas. Even lightly touching the patient near these sores can prove very painful;
- Stage Four. Once a skin ulcer reaches this stage, aggressive treatment (usually in a hospital) is necessary. When you look at the skin right below and around the bedsore, you’ll probably see all the way to the patient’s muscles or bones. Dead tissue is also frequently visible.
Failure to Properly Treat Bedsores Can Lead to Skin Cancers & Other Complications
The Mayo Clinic website notes that when some bedsores aren’t treated promptly and become chronic skin conditions, the patient can even develop a form of squamous cell carcinoma that may require surgery to heal the condition.
Other pressure sore complications can include the development of:
- Sepsis. This condition occurs when bacteria enters a patient’s bloodstream – often through the broken skin layers. When not caught quickly, sepsis can even lead to critical organ failure – and possibly even death;
- Cellulitis. While this may not sound like a serious problem – it can often develop into skin infections, redness, and swelling. Patients often experience severe pain once this condition appears;
- Infections in both joints and bones. As the skin deteriorates around bedsores, infections can penetrate the outer areas of joints and bones. Life threatening conditions such as sepsis (see above) can also soon develop.
Patients whose bedsore conditions go unnoticed for too long are often sent to specialty wound care hospitals. In addition to treating pressure ulcers, these hospitals also treat nonhealing surgical wounds, arterial ulcers, and other unique wound conditions.
How Common Are Serious Wound Conditions in America?
During the past decade, it’s been estimated that about 6.5 million Americans currently suffer from chronic wound conditions. Our country spends close to $50 billion annually trying to treat these stubborn conditions that rapidly become worse when not caught early. Doctors and other healthcare providers now believe that negligent hospitals, nursing homes, and other care centers are playing a direct role in creating an ongoing epidemic of chronic bedsores and other wounds in far too many patients.
Should you or a loved one have recently suffered serious complications due to a poorly treated or managed bedsores while living in a nursing home, you need to immediately contact your New York City personal injury attorney. We can help you find out if you’re entitled to receive compensation for any substandard medical care or nursing home abuse that you’ve been forced to endure.