Our law firm handles bed sore lawsuits in Maryland. Below are some common questions we get from victims.
What are Bed Sores?
Pressure sores (also known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers) are damage injuries to the skin and tissue below caused by extended compression. Pressure sores typically occur at thin points in the skin where it covers the bony areas of the body such as around the heels, hips, ankles and lower back. Individuals who are bedridden or have limited movement ability are at particular risk of developing pressure sores. This is why bedsores are a common problem for elderly patients in nursing homes.
What Causes Pressure Sores?
Bedsores are caused by prolonged compression or pressure on certain points of the skin. Like all parts of the human body, the skin and underlying tissue need blood circulation. Blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients that the skin and tissue need to survive. When certain points of the skin are subject to prolonged pressure it restricts or cuts off blood flow. Without the oxygen and nutrients from the blood, the skin, and tissue in these pressure points decays and can eventually die. In addition to direct compression, friction and shear on vulnerable points of the skin can lead to pressure sores.
Statistics that underscore the scope of the bedsore problem in our nursing homes
Most bedsore lawsuits can be prevented when hospitals and nursing homes do the little things you need to do to alleviate the pressure that causes the bedsores. It is not hard to nip a bedsore in the bud. But if you let them fester and do not immediately identify and treat the bedsore, they can become uncontrollable pretty quickly.
How Do You Prevent a Bedsore?
Pressure sores are generally a preventable injury, even when an individual is bedridden for a long period of time. Individuals who are unable to move need caretakers to regularly reposition them to avoid the compression and loss of blood flow that leads to bedsores. Regularly skin maintenance is also important. Keeping the skin clean and applying moisturizer can help prevent bedsores. Proper nutrition is also an important preventative factor.
What are the Symptoms of Pressure Sores?
There are 4 recognized stages or degrees of bedsores. The visible symptoms of bedsores depend on what particular stage they have progressed to.
Stage 1: in the first stage the damaged area will be red and warm to the touch (much like a minor burn). There may be painful itching or burning.
Stage 2: the damaged skin may become a deeper red and the surrounding area will become discolored. The center may begin to blister and appear like a cut or open sore. The site will become acutely painful.
Stage 3: when bedsores advance to stage 3 the damage has extended deep into the underlying tissue layer. This creates a depression that gives the bedsore a crater-like appearance on the surface.
Stage 4: when a bedsore progresses to stage 4 the skin and tissue has become severely damaged and the area looks like a wound. Muscle tissue, tendons, and even underlying bones can actually be visible beneath the wound at this stage. Local and systemic infection can occur at this stage.
Signs of local infection can include warm swelling with yellow or green pus around the sore. If the infection has spread to other areas of the body it will result in fever, chills and rapid heartbeat.
Common Locations of Bedsores
Pressure sores tend to develop over certain common points of the body where the skin is thinner and more vulnerable to blood flow interruption. For individuals confined to wheelchairs the common areas for pressure sores are tailbone and buttocks; shoulder blades; and back of the arms. For people who are entirely bedridden pressure points also include the hips, ankles, back of the knees, and back or sides of the head.
Serious Complications / Injuries Associated with Pressure Sores
If not timely diagnosed and treated, pressure sores can result in serious medical complications and injuries. The most common complication resulting from bedsores is an infection. Bedsores can frequently lead to cellulitis. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the tissue underneath the skin. Infection from pressure sores can also invade the joints and underlying bones which can seriously reduce joint mobility. In rare cases, pressure sores can also lead to cancer and sepsis.
How Are Pressure Sores Treated?
The first step in the treatment of pressure sores is eliminating the pressure and friction that initially caused the damage. This will restore normal blood flow to the damaged area. Cleaning and dressing the wound is usually the next step in treatment. Dead or severely damage tissue must be removed. Antibiotics are typically administered to deal with an infection. In some serious cases, surgery might be required to properly treat a pressure sore.
Bedsore Malpractice Claims
Pressure sores are a common occurrence for elderly residents in nursing home facilities. Nursing homes are medical care facilities and they have an obligation to provide a certain level of care to their residents. This includes taking appropriate steps to prevent bedsores in bedridden residents and those confined to wheelchairs. Too often, however, the staff at nursing homes do not make the effort necessary to prevent bedsores. This sort of neglect can be medical malpractice. Malpractice suits against nursing homes for failure to prevent pressure sores are common.
Contact the Malpractice Lawyers at Miller & Zois About Your Bedsore Case
If you know someone who may have a malpractice claim for pressure sores, call Miller & Zois today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online case review. There is no cost or obligation to learn about your options and the best path forward to receive compensation for what you have endured.