What Are Bed Sores How To Prevent Bed Sores
The terms “bed sore”, “pressure ulcer” and “decubitus ulcer” mean the same thing and are used to describe any skin lesion or wound caused by unrelieved pressure that damages the underlying tissue. Left untreated, these injuries can become infected and result in the amputation of a limb, or even wrongful death. Bed sores are graded on a scale from I to IV, with a grade I bed sore being a minor reddening of the skin and grade IV being an open wound with exposed muscle or bone. Commonly referred to as bed sores, the term “pressure ulcer” is a fitting one because they occur most often where there’s pressure between a bony prominence and another surface, most commonly a bed or chair.
Common areas for the development of bed sores:
- The tailbone or sacrum
- The buttocks
- The hips
- The heels
Bed sores can also occur elsewhere on the body.
Causes Contributing to Bed Sores
There are a number of factors that commonly lead to the development of bed sores, including:
- Failure to regularly re-position the resident, leaving one area of the body bearing the pressure of the resident’s weight for long periods.
- Failure to provide adequate toileting and clothing changes for residents who are unable to control their bowels or bladder.
- Failure to provide adequate nutrition and fluids; if there is malnutrition and dehydration, the skin will be less able to resist injury.
How To Prevent Bed Sores
Because bed sores are largely preventable, the failure to prevent them may form the basis of a viable lawsuit against a nursing home. Not only are they preventable, they are also treatable, and the progression from stages I or II to stage III or IV can be stopped. A proper prevention and treatment regimen would include:
- Use of pressure-reducing devices such as an air mattress or heal protector
- Regular turning and repositioning every two hours to relieve pressure on sensitive areas
- Insuring adequate nutrition through dietary assessment and adequate intake (and make sure the patient is actually eating!)
- Use of nutritional supplements (again, making sure the patient is actually taking them!)
- Regular dressing changes
- Application of wound treatments to the bed sore
State and federal regulations provide that when a resident enters a nursing home without bed sores, they must not develop them unless they are clinically unavoidable.
This means that the nursing home and its staff must take all necessary steps to prevent the development of bed sores. To do this, nursing home staff must:
- Make a proper assessment of the resident’s risk of developing bed sores
- Develop an adequate care plan to prevent bed sores
- MOST IMPORTANT: actually carry out the bed sore prevention care plan.
A full assessment of the treatment plan and its implementation is an important part of assessing the liability of the nursing home for the resident’s injuries. When proper treatment is not initiated, bed sores frequently do progress and become infected. This can lead to the steady decline of the nursing home resident’s health, osteomyelitis, and often culminating in the resident’s wrongful death.
We assist families who believe their loved one’s pressure ulcers are a result of nursing home negligence.
Bed sores are often preventable. If you think negligence has caused them to your family member, contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer for a FREE case evaluation.
If you feel that your loved one is or has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, file an Illinois nursing home complaint here.
Case involving bed sores are some of the most common types of cases we handle. Some of our successes include:
Blog posts of interest regarding bed sores: