When your loved one is in a nursing home, you expect the best care. Your mother has a hard time getting out of bed without help, and when she's in a wheelchair, she barely moves. Since she struggles so much to move, it's vital that the nursing staff helps her adjust and move regularly to prevent bedsores. Not doing so can constitute nursing home abuse, a claim for which you may receive compensation.
What is a bedsore?
A bedsore is also known as a pressure sore, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer. It develops relatively quickly. Each bedsore starts as an inflamed patch of skin, typically where the skin is thin over a bone. When your mother is confined to bed or a wheelchair for many hours at a time, the pressure from the bone on that thin skin causes inflammation. Due to the inflammation and pressure, no blood reaches the tissue in that area of the body. This causes it to go without oxygen or nutrients, resulting in tissue damage. This tissue damage progresses into bedsores if it's not identified and treated quickly.
Patients may also develop bedsores if they slip or slide into a different position in a chair or bed. This causes the skin to stretch over the bones and creates friction that damages the tissue.
Where do bedsores occur most often?
It's common to see bedsores on the knees or hips. It's also common to see them on knuckles or elbows, especially if they're pressed against a bed or hard surface for a long period of time. Healthy individuals feel this pressure and adjust automatically, but those who are ill, sedated or unable to move on their own may not recognize the pain or uncomfortable nature of the sore.
Are bedsores dangerous?
Yes. Bedsores, even when successfully treated, may return. Those who are successfully treated have a 90 percent chance of recurrence. Around 60,000 deaths a year are directly attributed to bedsores. These unhealed wounds open an individual up to the risk of infection, and because nursing homes expose them to urine, feces, viruses and bacteria, it's likely for patients to suffer infections in the wounds. Without proper treatment, sepsis, infections, osteomyelitis or gangrene are all possible.
If your mother has a bedsore, it's time to ask questions. If the nursing staff is doing its job, there's no reason a patient should sit without any move ment for more than a few hours. It takes only hours for a bedsore to develop, so patients who are at risk need to become a priority to the staff. If your mother is suffering as a result of poor care, you may have a claim for nursing home neglect or abuse.