Nursing Home Negligence—The Four Stages of Pressure Sore Development

In a recent blog, our Washington D.C. nursing home injury lawyers discussed nursing home negligence, and the danger of pressure sores in nursing homes today. Pressure sores, also known as decubitus ulcers or bedsores, affect around one million people across the country with nearly 60,000 people dying each year from complications of the very advanced stages of pressure sores, like osteomyelitis, a bacterial inflammation of the bones, and sepsis, an infection of the blood.

Pressure sores often develop as a result of nursing home negligence, when nursing home residents are immobile, confined to their beds or wheelchairs, have circulation problems, debilitating illnesses, incontinence, diabetes, dementia or other mental disabilities that lead to decreased mobility. When a nursing home resident sits or rests in the same position for long time periods without being moved by the nursing home staff, the circulation of blood to the skin is cut off, leading to the breakdown of skin, and pressure sores can rapidly develop.

There are four stages of pressure sore development, starting with Stage I, where an area of skin becomes red and discolored. In Stage II, the red area develops into a scrape or blister that forms an open sore, which results from the skin deterioration. If the wound is not cared for immediately, the skin continues to breakdown, leading to Stage III, where there is a greater degree of soft tissue loss beneath the surface of the skin, forming a shallow crater. With a Stage IV pressure sore, the crater becomes deeper, in some cases as large as a grapefruit, and the bone and muscle can be severely damaged, as well as joints and tendons. There is serious pain and depression associated with Stage IV pressure sores, and the deep craters can lead to life-threatening infections like osteomyelitis or sepsis, that can lead to nursing home injury or wrongful death.

As our nursing home attorneys in Washington D.C. discussed in a related blog, pressure sores are preventable, and at-risk residents should receive daily skin inspections for pressure sores, especially the bony areas of the body. Every two hours, bedridden residents should have their positions changed to relieve pressure on the skin, and every 15 minutes while sitting in a wheelchair. Residents should also have their skin protected from dampness caused by wound drainage, sweat, or incontinence. Some residents may benefit from a mattress or pad to relieve pressure on the skin, along with other technology designed to prevent pressure sores and nursing home injury. All nursing home residents should be also be given a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals to assist in pressure sore prevention and healing.

Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims of nursing home negligence in Washington D.C. and Maryland. Contact our attorneys today at 1-800-654-1949 for a free consultation.

Bedsores (Pressure Sores) Prevention, Mayo Clinic
National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Pressure Ulcer Research

The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging: Pressure Sores

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Osteomyelitis

Related Web Resources:

NCHS Data Brief: Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States 2004

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