Bed sores are often the result of localized skin damage when prolonged pressure from an external surface compresses against a bony prominence.
Common areas for bed sores include the back of the head, shoulder blades, shoulders, elbows, tailbone, hipbones, back of the knees, ankles, toes, and most commonly, the heels and sacrum.
The forces of friction, shear, and pressure can cause significant damage, leading to quickly a developing pressure wound (bedsore, pressure sores, pressure ulcer, decubitus ulcer).
Is your loved one the victim of medical negligence, resulting in pressure sores, pressure wounds, or decubitus ulcers? Have you lost a loved one through medical malpractice who died from a decubitus ulcer?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld injury lawyers can help. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case’s merits.
We accept all medical malpractice and negligence cases through contingency fee agreements, meaning you will pay no upfront fees until we resolve your claim.
Preventing and Treating a Pressure Sore
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nearly every pressure sore is preventable if caregivers follow established protocols when providing skincare treatment, nutrition, and standard health care. Unfortunately, negligence is rampant in hospitals and long-term care centers nationwide.
Data from the National Council on Aging revealed that over 3 million individuals in the United States are inflicted with bedsores every year. Pressure sores are most common in hospital patients and nursing home residents, including the elderly (65 years and older), the disabled, and rehabilitating.
Many individuals develop bedsores after undergoing surgical procedures for a hip fracture, hip replacement, or spinal cord injury.
However, many of these sores could be prevented had the nursing staff provided treatment at the first signs of infection, symptoms, and complications.
The National Institutes of Health recommend following healthcare measures proven effective at preventing pressure sores and treating an existing ulcer.
Some recommendations include:
- Frequently changing position to alleviate pressure on body parts, especially on the buttocks, back of the legs, sacrum, tailbone, hipbones, ankles, heels, shoulders, elbows, and the back of the head
- Cleaning the sore using mild soap and warm water (not hot) or saline solution before every dressing change and keeping the area clean and dry
- Applying dressings to protect open sores and accelerate the healing process. Dressings are available with microbial properties containing alginic acid (polysaccharide) that promote healing
- Applying topical creams to combat the infection, including antibacterial creams that form a barrier protecting vulnerable and damaged skin
- Removing necrotic (dead) tissue from the opened sore to allow better assessment of the wound’s severity using a high-pressure or low-pressure waterjet
- Using pressure-relieving devices including specialized pads, mattresses, and cushions that alleviate, relieve, or spread pressure
- Taking necessary antibiotics that treat wound-associated infections of the blood (sepsis), bone (osteomyelitis), or skin
- Managing incontinence with incontinence pads, barrier creams, fecal management systems, and cleansers
- Improving nutritional intake by adjusting the patient’s daily diet and fluid intake to ensure adequate protein supplementation is available to reduce sores and boost healing
A wound care specialist or diagnostician may recommend removing dead tissue through surgical procedures. These procedures include surgical debridement and sharp debridement or non-surgical options, including enzymatic debridement that removes necrotic skin from the open sore’s bed, promoting new healthy tissue growth.
Additional assistive treatments might involve electrical stimulation to promote new tissue growth, VAC (vacuum-assisted) wound closure and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Staging Pressure Sores
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel classifies the stages of pressure ulcers based on the extent of skin and tissue damage in six categories including:
- Stage 1 – At its early-stage, a bedsore is identifiable by its appearance that is visibly reddened or a purple/maroon color. Identifying a Stage I pressure sore might involve pressing a finger on the affected area to produce non-blanching erythema, where inflammation restricts blood flow. Without treatment, in time, the affected area may worsen.
- Stage 2 – A degrading Stage 1 pressure sore declines to partial-thickness skin loss affecting the epidermis and partial dermis layers. A Stage 2 bedsore appears as a pink-red shallow open sore with no necrotic (dead) or slough tissue. There may be abrasion and a pus-filled or blood-filled blister.
- Stage 3 – The progressing sore now has full-thickness skin loss involving the epidermis and dermis layers with significant damage or necrosis to subcutaneous tissues. An opening crater extends to the underlying fascia with the presence of slough, undermining, and tunneling.
- Stage 4 – A pressure ulcer’s final stage appears with full-thickness skin loss and substantial destruction, bone damage, and necrotic tissue, muscle, tendons, and ligaments fully exposed.
- Unstageable – The presence of eschar or slough in the wound bed may hinder a comprehensive assessment from identifying the extent, severity, and size of the pressure sore, making it unstageable.
Typically, a wound care specialist or surgeon will need to remove the dead skin through surgical, mechanical, or enzymatic debridement.
- Suspected Deep Tissue Injury (SDTI) – This injury involves maroon red or purple localized discolored intact skin that may involve a blood-filled blister caused by soft underlying tissue injury. An early-stage SDTI might appear boggy, firm, and extremely painful. The affected area temperature might be warmer or cooler than the surrounding area.
Diagnosing pressure sores and individuals with darker skin can be challenging. Diagnosticians and wound specialists often use other indicators to identify a Stage I pressure sore through skin harness, induration, warmth, and discoloration.
Pressure Ulcers: What to Look for and Document About a Deep Tissue Injury
The professional staff at nursing homes and hospitals must conduct a comprehensive head-to-toe skin assessment on patients most at risk for developing decubitus ulcers. The skin may be compromised, requiring daily skin care to promote health.
Any detected bedsore should be fully documented in the resident’s healthcare plan to ensure they receive the best care for healing.
Documentation identifying a detectable pressure sore should include:
- The sore’s location
- The stage of the ulcer
- Pressure ulcers’ size, including its width, depth, and length, measured in centimeters
- Any identifiable sinus tract, tunneling, or undermining
- The presence of exudate (oozing fluids), including its location, amount, and color
- The appearance and size of the wound bed, including a description of visible tissue
- A description of the sore’s edges, including any evidence of redness, rolled edges, maceration (damaged tissue from prolonged exposure to moisture or water), or induration (localized soft tissue hardening)
- A description of the area surrounding the sore
- The absence or presence of pain
- The absence or presence of any foul odor
The nursing home team must ensure that patients most at risk for developing bedsores are moved at least once every 2 hours. If the patient is sitting in a wheelchair, chair, or recliner, they should readjust their body weight at least once every 15 minutes.
People highly susceptible to developing pressure sores need assistance from nurses, nursing aides, and licensed practical nurses to minimize the potential of falling and causing injury.
With proper treatment, Stage I bed sores can heal quickly in as a few as 2 or 3 days. If the wound is not healing, ensure that the patient receives immediate attention from a competent wound specialist, doctor, or medical professional trained in providing bedsore care.
Ready to Take Legal Action? Hire A Medical Negligence Lawyer to Resolve Your Bedsore Injury Compensation Case
Did a caregiver’s negligent actions in a nursing home or hospital lead to your preventable pressure ulcer?
Did you lose a loved one from an avoidable pressure wound in a nursing facility, hospital, or long-term care setting?
Contact our negligence injury lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) can help you file and resolve a compensation case.
Our legal team accepts all injury cases through contingency fee arrangements. This agreement ensures you only pay for our services after we have resolved your compensation case.
All surviving family members who lost a loved one from a preventable death can legally file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages, including hospital bills, lost past and future earnings, loss of companionship, funeral costs, pain, and suffering.
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