Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are injuries to skin tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin that restricts blood flow to the affected area. When individuals aren’t moving around very much, or are bedridden, they are at great risk of developing bedsores. If you or someone you know has suffered from it, make sure to consult with our experienced personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas.
There are three primary contributing factors to bedsores:
- Pressure – Constant pressure on any part of the body can limit blood flow. Without blood flowing to the area, cells can’t get the oxygen and nutrients necessary to live, resulting in damage and even cell death. Areas of the body that don’t have a lot of muscle or fat padding are more likely to experience pressure bedsores. Bony regions can be pushed against the skin with more pressure, limiting or cutting off blood flow.
- Friction – When fragile skin rubs against clothing or bedding, especially when the material is not very soft, it can cause damage. Older individuals have thinner skin, making them more susceptible to damage by friction. Many nursing homes don’t have very soft sheets, making friction more likely.
- Shearing – Shearing occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions, creating tension. If a nursing home bed is elevated, the skin may stay in the place of the sheet while the weight of the body moves down, pulling on the skin and possibly resulting in tearing.
Risk Factors for the Elderly
People in nursing homes are at a much higher risk of developing bedsores than the general population. This is due to several risk factors that impact nursing home residents:
- Immobility – Many residents of nursing homes are either unable or uninterested in moving around. Many of their movements such as going from the bed to a wheelchair, may result in shearing or friction bedsores.
- Lack of sensory perception – This may be the result of spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, medications, or other conditions that may result in the loss of sensation. When a person is unable to distinguish pain or discomfort, they aren’t able to recognize warning signs of bedsores. Individuals in nursing homes are often less aware of their bodies due to age, medications, and health problems.
- Poor nutrition and dehydration – Common health problems in nursing homes include malnutrition and dehydration for many reasons. When individuals don’t have enough fluid and nutrients, they require even more blood flow in order to get what they need to function. This increases the damage done by limited blood flow.
- Medical conditions affecting blood flow – There are many health problems affecting blood flow that also affect many nursing home residents, such as diabetes and heart problems.
If you or a loved one has suffered from bedsores due to nursing home negligence, contact our personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas immediately.
Bedsores themselves are uncomfortable and painful, but they can lead to even worse problems if left untreated. Bedsores are often the underlying cause of death in nursing homes due to the uncontrollable infections that may result. Some complications of bedsores include:
- Cellulitis – This is an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues.
- Bone and joint infections – Joint infections can damage cartilage and tissue. Bone infections can decrease the functioning of limbs.
- Cancer – Long-term wounds that don’t heal may develop into a type of cancer (squamous cell carcinoma).
- Sepsis – Rarely, bedsores result in a serious infection called sepsis. Sepsis happens when the chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger an inflammatory response throughout the body, ultimately leading to organ failure and even death.
It’s important to understand the early signs and symptoms of bedsores so you can recognize them in a loved one. It’s also extremely important to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas if a family member is suffering from bedsores. Many individuals are not able to recognize the pain and discomfort themselves, so you must be aware of the symptoms. The most common places for bedsores to develop is in bony places, such as:
- Tailbone or buttocks
- Shoulder blades and spine
- The back of the head
- Heels, ankles, skin behind the knee
Warning signs for bedsores include:
- Unusual changes in the color or texture of the skin
- Pus-like draining
- Warmth or coolness compared to other areas.
When the first signs of bedsores are noticed, the person should change their position to relieve pressure on the affected area. If the symptoms are not alleviated in 24 hours, seek medical advice.
Prevention of Injuries
Almost all bedsores are preventable. Developing bed sores can often be the result of an individual staying in the same position for long periods, in addition to a poor diet. There is no excuse for bedsores to develop in a nursing home, when the staff should be aware of the risks and vigilant in prevention. Bedsores that are recognized in the early stages should be very easy to treat or to prevent from worsening. Some steps that may be taken by the nursing home include:
- A full assessment upon admission to the nursing home to look for vulnerable skin.
- Identifying any additional risk factors a resident may have such as diabetes, vascular problems or immobility.
- Ensuring the resident eats a healthy diet and drinks enough fluids.
- Recognizing the early signs of bedsores and using a prevention plan, such as repositioning the resident.
- Using proven protocols to treat bedsores that may arise.
Is It Elder Neglect?
Many nursing homes cut costs by understaffing their facilities, resulting in a lack of proper attention for residents. Since the residents themselves are often unable to recognize the early signs of bedsores, this lack of attention may have serious health consequences. Nearly every time a nursing home resident develops a bed sore, it is a sign of neglect.
Neglect in a nursing home is unacceptable and requires immediate legal action with the assistance of our personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas. It’s important to seek legal advice from an experienced law group soon after addressing the health needs of your loved one. As bedsores may result in serious health complications, there may be additional health costs as well as physical hardship for the resident. Taking legal action may get you the compensation you need as well as decreasing the likelihood of this happening to another resident.
Elderly Abuse Attorneys in Las Vegas
At Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers, we have represented clients who have survived serious car accidents, wrongful deaths of family members and other injuries such as nursing home abuse. We have the dedication and experience to ensure your case is handled properly. Give us a call at (702) 384-1414 to speak to our personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas. You can also fill out our online contact form here.