A Guide to Bedsores in Nursing Homes

Assisted living facilities are becoming an increasingly common part of society. They are so common that nearly 14 million people live in some kind of nursing home. However, it is difficult to find enough workers to meet the growing staffing needs of these facilities, leaving most of them under-staffed. As a result, many issues arise, causing the residents to suffer.

One of the most common issues within nursing homes is bedsores. Here is a guide to help answer some of your questions regarding this issue.

What Are Bedsores?

Bedsores–also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers–are injuries to tissue and muscles, creating ulcers on the skin. These ulcers most commonly occur around bony parts of the body.

What Causes Bedsores?

Bedsores are caused by a lack of blood flow to the skin. This lack of blood flow occurs due to pressure on the skin, friction, or soft tissue shearing on the body. Most commonly, these ulcers are a problem for people with limited mobility, like those who are bedridden or in a wheelchair. Sitting or laying in one position for too long, even just a few hours, can cause someone to develop bedsores.

Other factors like moisture and malnutrition can put nursing home residents at a higher risk for developing bedsores. Moisture breaks down the skin’s protective layer, while malnutrition can greatly affect the speed of a person’s healing process.

How Are Bedsores Treated?

To treat bedsores, clean them with water or a saltwater solution and wrap them in a clean bandage. You should change this dressing regularly, continue to clean and monitor the wound to ensure proper healing, and keep it dry between re-dressings.

Additionally, to help with blood flow, injured areas should be elevated and inflicted persons should try to move regularly. In more severe bed sore cases, a healthcare professional may recommend that your loved one use special antibiotics or creams to fight infections and ensure their wounds heal successfully.

What Happens if Bedsores Are Left Untreated?

It is very important to treat bedsores well if they occur because if they are left untreated they could greatly impact the health of your loved one. Since bedsores are often open wounds on the skin, they are at risk of being exposed to bacteria. This exposure can lead to things like:

  • Deep tissue infections
  • Bone infections
  • Blood infections
  • Flesh-eating diseases and bacteria like gangrene

Additionally, if bed sores become infected, they can lead to sepsis, sending a patient’s body into shock and putting them at a high risk of death. Sepsis is unfortunately a very common issue for patients suffering from bedsores, leading to many deaths each year.

How Can Bedsores Be Prevented?

With the proper care, bedsores can easily be prevented. Since these ulcers occur due to restricted blood flow, most commonly caused by regular or excessive pressure, they can be prevented by limiting pressure on the skin. Nursing home workers should take steps to do this by encouraging routine movement among residents.

Staff members should take extra steps to limit pressure for nursing home residents who struggle with mobility. They can do this by frequently repositioning nursing home residents who are bedridden and unable to move on their own. They can also lower residents’ risk of developing bedsores by prioritizing their nutrition and hydration.

What Should I Do If My Loved One Is Suffering from Bedsores?

When you find out that a loved one is suffering from bedsores, the most important thing to do is to help them get the necessary medical treatment to address their wounds. Once their medical needs have been met, you should contact a specialty nursing home abuse firm like the Nursing Home Law Center.

A skilled lawyer will be able to investigate the nursing home in which your loved one was living and gather evidence to prove that their neglect and mistreatment caused physical harm to your loved one. If their negligence is proven, they could be held financially responsible and forced to pay your loved one’s medical bills and any additional costs that could have come from their pain and suffering.

Hiring a lawyer can help grant justice to you and your loved ones and prevent other seniors from suffering from the same kind of neglect in the future, leading to happier and healthier nursing homes in the future.

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