Pressure Sores: Common Signs of Elder Abuse
Tragically, too many nursing home residents and hospital patients suffer pressure ulcers which are also called bedsores, pressure sores, pressure injuries, or decubitus ulcers. As the name suggests, pressure ulcers are caused by pressure. When a patient is left in the same position, pressure prevents the flow of blood which carries oxygen to the skin and tissues. Over time, the lack of oxygen causes the skin and tissues to die. Pressure sores are painful to the patient and dangerous. Patients with pressure sores are prone to life threatening infections.
Most pressure sores are preventable with proper care. Federal nursing home regulations provide that in most cases a patient who is admitted to a nursing home without pressure sores should not develop them. For patients who are admitted to a nursing home with pressure sores the sores should not worsen.
The standard of care is for a bed bound patient to be turned and repositioned at least every two hours. The nursing home should have a written turning and repositioning program.
A patient at risk for pressure sores should have their skin checked at least daily so the nursing home can commence early treatment. Pressure sores are most likely to form on bony parts of the body especially the sacrum, hips, and feet. Pressure sores are easier to prevent than to treat. Once a patient has a pressure sore, the nursing home needs to keep pressure off of the sore. The sore needs to be kept clean and dry and the physician needs to be kept informed about the condition of the pressure sore. Nutritional support is critical for preventing and treating pressure sores. Nutritional status can be assessed by monitoring the resident's weight, food intake, and laboratory values.
Pressure sores are typically assessed by stages. A stage I pressure sore appears as a reddened area of the skin that remains red even after pressure is removed. A stage II pressure sore looks like a shallow crater or a blister. Stage III and stage IV pressure sores are far more dangerous. In both stage III and stage IV pressure sores the skin is broken leaving the body prone to infections. In a stage IV pressure sore, the underlying tissue or even bone may be exposed. A wound infection may occur when micro-organisms invade the wound and start multiplying.
Joshua Silverman represents patients who were injured or lost their lives due to pressure sores. Please contact us if you or a loved one suffered pressure sores while in the care of a nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital.