Technically known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bed sores are regions of the skin that have been damaged or killed altogether due to lack of circulation caused by pressure. Although bed sores can affect any part of the body, they tend to develop in areas where the body is particularly bony or cartilaginous. Most commonly, pressure ulcers will develop on the heels, knees, hips, buttocks, sacrum and elbows.
Bedsores are most likely to arise in patients who are living with irreversible spinal cord injuries, as well as those required to lay immobile due to:
- An operation
- An accident
- An infection
- Any other type of illness or injury
As a result, many cases of bed sores arise in medical care facilities and nursing homes. Should your loved one be diagnosed with bed sores, you may have a medical malpractice and/or nursing home abuse claim if the staff’s negligence caused or worsened the sores. The highly qualified nursing home abuse lawyers at the Law Firm of Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith want you to know that we are here to help you. We have been successfully representing victims of nursing home abuse and other personal injury cases for more than 30 years.
Our superior legal knowledge, along with our impressive litigating skills and our high ethical standards, have helped us win our clients hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and awards since 1979.
Types of Bed Sores
Bed sores are classified according to whether or not they are stageable. Developing in a predictable, regular manner, stageable bed sores will display the typical symptoms of bed sores and, therefore, will be visibly apparent to vigilant medical professionals. In general, this makes stageable bed sores easier to diagnose and treat earlier, which, in turn, gives patients a more favorable prognosis.
Alternately, unstageable bed sores will develop without standard symptoms. In fact, the typical crater-like wound that characterizes pressure sores will not be apparent to well trained medical professionals, as dead skin or tissue covers these markings.
Cases of unstageable bed sores are generally far more severe than stageable pressure ulcers due to the fact that they are:
- More difficult to recognize
- More likely to be misdiagnosed in early stages
- More likely to have progressed to later, potentially fatal stages before being diagnosed
Stages of Bed Sores
The stage of a bed sore classifies how far along the condition has progressed. According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP), the stages of pressure sores are:
- Stage I, the initial development of pressure sores that may cause patients to experience skin pain, odd skin texture and/or skin that is warmer or cooler than normal
- Stage II, progressing sores that have damaged the first two outer layers of skin, causing skin blisters or abrasions
- Stages III, sores that have damaged all layers of skin
- Stage IV, bed sores that have begun to damage bone, tendon and muscles
The higher the stage (the closer it gets to Stage IV), the longer it will take patients to recover. About 38 percent of all Stage IV pressure ulcer patients will never fully heal.
How to Treat Bed Sores
The precise course of treatment for a bed sore will depend on the severity of a patient’s condition. Typically, treatments involve:
- Frequently rotating a patient’s position
- Using pressure-relieving mattresses and cushions
- Regularly cleaning wounds
- Removing incurable damaged tissues
- Taking oral antibiotics
- Eating healthfully
- Undergoing surgery
- Attending physical therapy
If your loved one has bed sores and you feel that the nursing home staff is not taking proper care of them, you may have a nursing home abuse claim. In some cases, staff will ignore bed sores, even the stageable sores that are visible to the eye. Negligence may involve not cleaning them properly or often enough, not providing the patient with the proper course of antibiotics or not rotating their position on a regular basis.