Families put a lot of trust in nursing care facilities. They need – and expect – these institutions to provide safe and comfortable environments for their loved ones, along with the necessary medical care they need.
Unfortunately, that trust can be misplaced. One of the most glaring signs of neglect is the development of pressure ulcers or “bedsores.”
What are bedsores?
Bedsores are injuries to someone’s skin and muscle tissue that develop when there’s prolonged pressure or friction on specific parts of that person’s body. Quite often they’re found on the buttocks and lower back, the heels of the patient’s feet, their shoulders and on the back of a patient’s head.
These pressure injuries typically occur when victims are unable to change their position regularly whether that’s due to broad mobility issues or bed confinement. Bedsores develop in stages:
- Stage 1: In this stage, the skin is red and may be painful, hot and firm to the touch, but only the topmost layer of the skin (the epidermis) is involved.
- Stage 2: The topmost layer of skin may be lost and the wound can resemble a shallow abrasion or open wound. It will be red around the wound and there might be fluid draining.
- Stage 3: The damage is much deeper, into the subcutaneous tissue. Fat tissue may be exposed. The wound could be quite painful and be surrounded by dead tissue and leaking fluids.
- Stage 4: These involve extensive tissue damage. The area may have become necrotic, and muscles, tendons and bone may be visible.
Pressure ulcers should always be considered a potential sign of neglect – especially when they’ve gone past Stage 1, since that indicates the conditions that cause the sores have been ongoing for a while. Bedsores are nearly entirely preventable with proper care. Staffing shortages frequently cause nursing home aides to neglect their patients’ hygiene needs and they may fail to reposition immobile patients frequently enough to prevent skin breakdowns and infections.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect, seeking legal guidance can help you explore your options. Speaking up and demanding accountability for inadequate care is the only way to prevent things like this from happening and to properly address misconduct that has resulted in suffering.