Bedsores are one of the most disturbing and debilitating conditions residents suffer as a result of nursing home neglect. Every year 150,000 plus patients and nursing home residents are diagnosed with bedsores in the United States. They are also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers. Bedsores at Maryland nursing homes can be extremely serious and even life-threatening for elderly people.
When we place elderly residents in the care of a nursing home or an assisted living facility, we have a right to believe they will be cared for. However, the nursing home industry is as committed to making a profit as any other. Often homes cut corners with staffing, pay, and training. The victims are almost always the residents who may suffer from many different types of nursing home abuse. Medical abuse and a lack of care can lead to bedsores and other serious illnesses and complications.
Bedsores are a clear sign of nursing home neglect. If your family member suffers injuries from this condition, you should contact our Maryland nursing home abuse lawyers as soon as possible. Many nursing homes in Maryland are sued over pressure sores every year. While most nursing homes have bedsore protocols they are not always followed and residents suffer needlessly from this entirely preventable condition.
What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin when a nursing home resident is immobile, according to the Mayo Clinic. Bedsores are tissue damage beneath the upper-epidermal layers of the skin. They are more likely to develop on skin that covers the bony areas of the body, such as the ankles, heels, hips and tailbone or backs of the arms and legs from when residents sit on chairs.
Nursing home residents whose medical conditions prevent them from moving around face the greatest risk of bedsores.
How Many Nursing Home Residents Develop Bedsores?
Data from the National Nursing Home Survey of 2004 found about 159,000 residents of U.S. nursing homes were diagnosed with bedsores, states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This represented about 11 percent of the nursing home population.
Residents aged 64 and under were more likely to develop bedsores than older people. Stage 2 pressure ulcers were the most common kind, according to the survey.
Residents who had been in nursing homes for under a year were more likely to have pressure ulcers than those with longer stays. About 20 percent of nursing home residents who experienced a recent weight loss suffered from pressure ulcers.
How Serious Are Bedsores?
Bedsores vary in seriousness from causing minor discomfort to being fatal for elderly patients. Bedsores develop very rapidly. Nurses and care assistants cannot afford to be complacent about this very serious condition.
There are four distinct stages to bedsores, namely:
Stage 1 Bedsores
The earliest and least severe stage of bedsores is stage 1. Symptoms include changes in coloration of the resident’s skin, irritation, or the appearance of bruising at certain pressure points on the body. This discoloration or bruising is most likely to occur at protruding bony areas like the tailbone and hips. A reddish tint to the skin is often the first sign of bedsores. The coloration will often deepen and darken in color to a bluish or a black hue.
When bedsores are developing, the skin may become increasingly sensitive to the touch and to changes in pressure or temperature. The resident may experience a numbness or a tingling or a loss of sensation in the affected area.
Stage 1 bedsores can be prevented by staff checking patient hygiene on a daily basis, inspecting patients for bedsores, and moving residents around regularly.
Stage 2 Bedsores
Stage 2 bedsores can be identified by irritated skin, intact or ruptured blisters, fluid or pus, and redness or discoloration of the skin. It’s vital to identify and treat stage 2 bedsores as soon as possible. Complications occur quickly when bedsores are not treated.
Stage 3 Bedsores
Bedsores reach stage 3 when they go through the second layer of skin into the fat tissue. According to WebMD, bedsore may look like craters at this stage. Bedsores may also give off a bad odor. They may show signs of infection with pus and feel hot. If the tissue around bedsores is black, the skin has died. Stage 3 bedsores require considerable care. A doctor may have to remove dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics to fight infection. A resident should receive a special mattress.
Stage 4 Bedsores
When bedsores reach Stage 4, a resident can suffer serious and potentially-fatal health implications. The bedsores have reached muscles and ligaments and the resident may have open wounds.
By this stage, bedsores are wide and very deep. They have caused the skin to turn black. The bedsores may show signs of infection. They are likely to have vivid red edges and give off a bad odor. Pus and drainage are present. The resident’s skin may be so badly damaged that tendons, muscles, and bone are visible.
Infections from stage 4 bedsores can prove fatal to nursing home residents. Staff in Maryland nursing homes should immediately seek help from medical professionals for advanced stage bedsores. A stage 4 bedsore can take more than three months to treat. Symptoms may linger after a year.
Where Are Nursing Home Residents Most Likely to Experience Bedsores?
Bedsores are most likely to occur on a resident’s lower back, buttocks, hips, or tailbone. They are associated with areas that are under pressure from lying down or sitting for prolonged periods.
Bedsores can often develop on areas such as the heel, foot, and ankle in patients who remain in the same footwear or are wheelchair-bound.
What Factors Make Bedsores in Maryland Nursing Homes More Likely?
Residents with dementia or other cognitive issues are less likely to report the symptoms associated with bedsores such as pain and irritation, leading to a potential escalation of symptoms.
Patients with incontinence are more likely to develop bedsores if they are not moved frequently. Nursing home residents who suffer from conditions like obesity, malnutrition, auto-immune deficiencies, and clotting disorders are also more likely to develop bedsores.
How Can Nursing Homes Prevent Bedsores?
Bedsores are highly preventable. Nursing home staff should practice re-positioning techniques on residents who are immobile.
Staff can help prevent the development of bedsores by taking the following actions:
- Moving patients around frequently in their beds;
- Making sure they have dry bedding and clothing;
- Reducing pressure to the bony areas of the body;
- Taking action when the early signs of bedsores such as redness appear.
- Avoiding the use of talcum powder or strong soap products;
- Putting pillows between parts of a resident’s body that press against each other;
- Using special mattresses that allow for changes in pressure like air or water-filled mattresses should be used on sedentary residents;
- Using protective padding on the legs and heels of a bed-bound patient;
- Keeping residents’ skin clean and dry. Their skin should be washed with a gentle cleanser and patted dry. It’s vital to minimize expose between the skin and moisture, urine and feces.
- Helping patients with low-intensity exercises like raising arms and legs.
What Are the Complications of Bedsores at Maryland Nursing Homes?
The potential complications of bedsores at Maryland nursing homes are numerous and devastating.
A report by Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore warns of the potentially deadly nature of bedsores. The mortality rate for older people who develop a pressure ulcer can be as high as 60 percent within a year of discharge from the hospital.
The most serious complication from a bedsore is sepsis. This condition is commonly caused by bacterial infection in the blood called septicemia. The bacteria release poisons which cause a massive inflammatory response in the immune system. Sepsis often results in injury, organ failure or death, notes Medical News Today.
Other complications of bedsores include localized infection, osteomyelitis, and cellulitis. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone, an unusual but serious condition. Cellulitis is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection that usually affects the skin of a patient’s lower legs. Without rapid treatment, it can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life-threatening.
An infection from a bedsore can impact a resident’s joints and bones. Septic arthritis can damage cartilage and tissue. Bone infections reduce the function of joints and limbs and further impact mobility in residents with very little to begin with.
Bedsores may also result in emotional trauma, pain, and depression that impairs healing.
Is There A Difference Between Bedsores from Wheelchairs and Beds?
Residents who are wheelchair-bound typically develop bedsores in different places to bed bound residents if they are not moved frequently. The location of a bedsore depends on the way the resident sits. If they are in a wheelchair for much of the day at a nursing or a residential home, they may develop bedsores on their tailbone, shoulders, arms, legs or spinal area. Bed-bound residents are more prone to bedsores on their lower back, hips, heels, shoulders or even the back or side of the head.
Is there a Link Between Diet and Bedsores?
Nursing home residents with a poor diet are more susceptible to bedsores. Most elderly people need additional extra protein, minerals, vitamins, and calories to help in the healing of their wounds. A nutrient deficiency delays the healing of a wound. Malnutrition is a leading cause of the development of a bedsore.
When lawyers take on nursing home negligence cases, they can request evidence of the albumin levels in a patient’s blood. Albumin provides an effective indication of whether the resident has been receiving sufficient protein.
Is Maryland Nursing Home Under Staffing Linked to Bedsores in Residents?
Under staffing is one of the most serious causes of elder abuse dealt with by our Maryland nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys.
Federal data released in 2018 found most nursing homes are not adequately staffed, reported PBS. Shortfalls are particularly acute over the weekends. Residents who live in understaffed nursing homes face a greater risk of developing bedsores. They are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, weight loss, and infections, all factors more likely to result in pressure sores.
The residents who are immobile and at greater risk of bedsores require the most intensive treatment. When staffing levels are low, these people are more likely to be neglected and not moved.
Bed bound residents require constant care and assistance to carry any type of task or activity. A failure to move them may foster the development of bedsores.
Lawsuits Against Maryland Nursing Homes Over Bedsores
Bedsores are a common form of elder abuse in nursing homes and other Maryland care facilities. When bed sores develop and cause harm or fatalities, residents or family members often have grounds to file lawsuits against the facilities. You should contact a nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
Family members are often wary about bringing lawsuits against nursing homes that cared for an elderly relative. They may underestimate the seriousness of bedsores and believe they are a normal risk of nursing home life.
If your loved one is diagnosed with a bedsore you should make sure he or she is receiving proper medical intervention and talk to an attorney. Nursing homes and other elder care facilities in Maryland can be sued just like any hospital, doctor, surgeon or another healthcare provider. Lawsuits against nursing homes are very common and are often settled out of court.
Sadly, the standard of care in far too many Maryland nursing homes is unacceptable, placing elderly people in danger.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Bedsore Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we have helped the families of many residents who suffered elder abuse. Nursing home abuse can be deliberate but it’s often a result of under staffing, poor training, bad diet or conditions or poor procedures.
Whatever the cause, bedsores are debilitating and can be horrific. Our seasoned nursing home negligence lawyers will examine your case carefully and hold nursing homes to account. Please contact us for a free and confidential consultation today at (410) 694-7291.