Bed sores in nursing homes are painful, unsightly and preventable – all good reasons for a facility to be vigilant in their prevention. The risks associated with pressure sores make them worse than just an uncomfortable surface injury — especially with the compromised immune system of many nursing home residents.
Often the first observable symptom of a bed sore problem, this infection of the skin causes pain and swelling at the site of infection. Left untreated, it can lead to serious and fatal complications – including sepsis, gangrene and meningitis.
Open, untreated wounds like pressure ulcers are an invitation to bacteria. Left unchecked, those bacteria colonies can spread throughout the patient’s system leading to a general infection. Severe cases reduce blood flow to vital organs, leading to blood clots, organ failure, and a mortality rate of nearly 50 percent.
Infection and reduced blood flow around a decubitus ulcer can lead to tissue death, otherwise known as gangrene. Although easily identifiable by its putrid smell, gangrene sometimes goes undetected and untreated by nursing home staff. Even when treated the condition leads to severe scarring, loss of body parts like a hand or foot, and death.
Osteomyelitis and Joint Infections
The bacterial infections at the point of a bed sore can infect bone tissue, leading to reduced mobility. For nursing home patients – who already often suffer from impaired movement – this can severely reduce their quality of life. It also makes patients less likely to want to get out of bed, putting them at greater risk for more and worse bed sores.
Untreated, open wounds like pressure ulcers put a patient at a greater risk of squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. These cancers are often fatal, and the treatment alone can be dangerously hard on nursing home patients.