What are some signs ofBed Sores or Pressure Ulcers?
To recognize a bed sore, or pressure ulcer, look for the following conditions:
A person with a pressure ulcer will develop a patch of skin that is red, purple, or blue. The patch may also feel firm and cold or warm, and it may be tender or itchy. These signs usually accompany a pressure ulcer in Stage I.
In a Stage II pressure ulcer, the skin may blister or become an open abrasion or sore. The area around the sore may be discolored, usually purple or red. A person with a Stage II pressure ulcer may also develop swelling and oozing.
A Stage III pressure ulcer extends below the surface of the skin, and is more of a crater.
A Stage IV pressure ulcer extends even deeper, reaching to the bone, muscle, joint, or tendon.
When a bed sore or pressure ulcer becomes infected, a person may experience fever, and the skin around the bed sore may become tender, warm, and redder than before. The sore may start to drain pus, and may smell foul.
What should I do if I suspect my loved one has been a victim of Bed Sores or Pressure Ulcers?
If your loved one has been a victim of bed sores or pressure ulcers, you should ensure that they receive immediate care for their bed sores; then you should report the incident to the state nursing home regulators and consult a lawyer to ensure your loved one’s rights are upheld.
Pressure ulcers can take anywhere from three days to two years to heal, depending on the severity of the ulcer and what stage it has advanced to. An ulcer in Stage I or II can be treated by keeping the wound clean, reducing the source of pressure on the sore, and drinking lots of water and eating foods high in protein. An ulcer in Stage III or IV usually requires a doctor’s treatment.
After ensuring your loved one has received treatment for their bed sores, report the incident to Georgia Healthcare Facility Regulation, or contact a local ombudsman. Bed sores often signal nursing home neglect, and the nursing home may be held responsible for any injuries your loved one has sustained. Consult a lawyer to find out if you have a case.
What should a nursing home do to prevent Bed Sores or Pressure Ulcers?
For every resident, nursing homes should evaluate the individual’s condition and risk factors for pressure ulcers, then develop a care plan to prevent the resident from developing bed sores. During care, staff should monitor the resident to ensure he or she has not developed bed sores, and should make changes to the care plan as needed.
For example, nursing home caregivers should help residents change position often, and provide opportunities for mobility if possible. Nursing homes should also maintain good hygiene for residents, and provide regular and timely assistance for residents who suffer from incontinence, as this is as risk factor for pressure ulcers. They should also provide residents with a healthy diet and plenty of water, and should monitor residents with conditions that put them at greater risk for developing bed sores, such as thyroid disease, diabetes mellitus, and a history of pressure ulcers.
Caregivers should watch for pressure ulcers and take immediate action when a resident develops bed sores, in order to avoid infection and promote healing. Nursing homes should educate their staff about recognizing pressure ulcers and treating them, and caregivers should treat pressure ulcers according to current medical practices.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for Bed Sores or Pressure Ulcers?
In Georgia, nursing homes are responsible for ensuring that a resident who enters the facility without pressure sores does not develop them after being admitted to the facility. Nursing homes are also responsible for ensuring that a resident with pressure sores receives the treatment and assistance necessary for healing, and that the resident does not develop infection or any new pressure ulcers.
What this means is that nursing homes should do everything reasonably possible to prevent residents from developing pressure ulcers, promote healing of current pressure ulcers and keep them free from infection, and prevent residents with bed sores from developing any further sores.
There may be certain cases in which pressure ulcers are unavoidable, and in these cases, the nursing home is not responsible for prevention, though it is responsible for providing treatment as soon as the ulcer appears.
By law, a nursing home that is responsible for a resident’s bed sores or pressure ulcers, or responsible for any infection developing from bed sores, is required to give the resident financial compensation for any medical bills, pain, and suffering sustained as a result of the resident’s injuries and infections.
Why do Bed Sores or Pressure Ulcers occur in nursing homes?
Many nursing home residents are sedentary, remaining in one position for a long period of time. When this happens, it puts steady pressure on certain parts of the body, and bed sores or pressure ulcers can develop as a result. Other conditions like poor hygiene (often due to incontinence) and an imbalanced diet can also contribute to bed sores.
Residents are at greater risk of developing bed sores if they have conditions like end stage renal disease, thyroid disease, or diabetes mellitus. They are also at greater risk if they use drugs such as steroids, which may cause wounds to heal more slowly, resulting in pressure ulcers developing.
Conditions that affect blood flow, such as generalized atherosclerosis and lower extremity arterial insufficiency, can make a resident more likely to develop pressure ulcers. Since many nursing home residents suffer from these types of conditions, it makes them more susceptible.
Additionally, residents with impaired mental capabilities sometimes develop pressure ulcers, as do residents with decreased functional ability, who may find it difficult to move often and therefore remain sedentary much of the time.