Rhode Island nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect lawyers see medical malpractice cases arising from both bed sores and pressure sores in patients in nursing homes. These sores ought to be prevented or quickly diagnosed so that treatment can be administered. Medical malpractice cases against nursing homes arise when patients are not treated properly or when delayed treatment causes the condition to become much worse.

caretaker with an elderly patient

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Bed Sores and Pressure Sores in Nursing Homes: Diagnosis and Prevention

Individuals who cannot easily move around often develop pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure sores. The tissue beneath the skin breaks down from continued pressure and poor circulation. When skin breaks down, it becomes red. After the breakdown of the skin, open sores develop. In severe cases, the bed sore causes destruction of muscle or even bone beneath the skin.

Bed sores (sometimes called “decubitis ulcers” or “dermal ulcers”) often occur in individuals who have certain risk factors, like poor nutrition, persistent wetness (especially from excrement), being restricted to bed or a wheelchair, and other medical problems (such as spinal cord injuries or hip fractures). The most important step to prevent bed sores is to avoid long-term pressure on one part of your body.

stages of pressure sores and stages of bedsore development

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) adopted a process for evaluating bed sores and pressure sores based on a system that goes from Suspected Deep Tissue Injury (earliest signs) to Stage IV (most advanced):

  • Suspected Deep Tissue Injury: A discolored area of intact skin or blood-filled blister due to damage of the soft tissue underneath. Can be hard to detect in patients with darker skin tones. Can become worse very rapidly
  • Stage I: A reddened area on the skin that does not turn white when pressed. May be harder to detect in patients with darker skin. Can be painful, or firmer or softer than surrounding skin.
  • Stage II: A break in the skin develops exposing the soft tissue below the skin. Can be shiny or dry. If it looks bruised, there may be injury to deeper tissue.
  • Stage III: Skin has broken down and fat may be visible. Can be very deep depending on the part of the body that the sore appears on.
  • Stage IV: The bed sore is so deep that muscle and bone are damaged and sometimes even visible. Sometimes, skin or damaged tissue has become stuck to the patient’s bed.

In patients predisposed to bed sores, it is important to assess the risk for bed sores and develop a plan to prevent pressure sores as soon as possible. A plan widely used by medical practitioners to predict a patient’s likelihood to develop bed sores and pressure sores is called the Braden Scale.

The Braden Scale evaluates several factors to determine a patient’s risk of bedsores. These include the patient’s activity level, ability to sense discomfort, diet, and ability to move. Another large factor is the patient’s ability to control their bladder and bowels.

Nursing homes may be negligent if they fail to properly assess patients for the risks of developing bed sores, if they do not turn the patient regularly, or do not bathe the patient regularly, and if they do not treat the patient promptly and properly after a bed sore is diagnosed.

What You Should Do if Your Loved One Develops a Bedsore

If your loved one develops a bedsore:

  • Make sure your loved one is receiving appropriate wound care for the existing bedsore.
  • If your loved one cannot easily move on her own, ensure she is receiving appropriate care, including regular repositioning and support, to prevent future bedsores.
  • If you suspect nursing home negligence or abuse, consult with a qualified personal injury attorney.

What You Should Do if Your Loved One Develops a Bedsore

Nursing Home Bedsore Lawyer meeting with client that had an elderly family member with bedsoresIf your loved one develops a bedsore:

  • Make sure your loved one is receiving appropriate wound care for the existing bedsore.
  • If your loved one cannot easily move on her own, ensure she is receiving appropriate care, including regular repositioning and support, to prevent future bedsores.
  • If you suspect nursing home negligence or abuse, consult with a qualified personal injury attorney.