In the last years of life, Kansas City elderly patients deserve the care and comfort of home regardless of where they must reside. Unfortunately for too many nursing home residents, lack of proper care may cause this painful injury.
What is a bed sore?
Also referred to as a decubitus ulcer or a pressure sore, bed sores develop when an elderly patient is left in the same position for too long. Bed sores develop when an area of the body is under constant pressure, robbing the area of adequate blood flow and oxygen. Over time, a breakdown in the tissue will cause a painful sore to develop.
Beyond the pain that the sores will cause patients, bed sores can be potentially dangerous to the overall health and well-being of an incapacitated patient. Bed sores can become infected, and the infection may be very hard to heal. Infected bed sores cost lives, up to 60,000 per year. Certain injury patients seem be more susceptible to bed sores. About a third of spinal cord injury patients will develop bed sores. Eight percent of deaths in spinal cord patients are caused by bed sores, like actor Christopher Reeve who died from complications resulting from infected bed sores.
The biggest lesson about bed sores is the fact that they are a mostly preventable condition. Nursing home residents that receive adequate care often do not succumb to bed sores. Patients who are left too long in a certain position are more likely to develop bed sores. However, when patients are turned frequently and attended to, the chances of developing bed sores decreases.
Good patient hygiene is another important factor to prevent painful bed sores. Patients who are incontinent must be attended to frequently. Skin that is left moist and unclean for too long will break down, causing it to become even more likely to develop pressure sores. Couple this with inadequate moving and turning about and you have a patient with a high likelihood for developing bed sores.
Bed sores are categorized into four stages of development and severity:
- Stage one- The sore is red and possibly hot to the touch. The area will become itchy and painful.
- Stage two- Bed sores at this point can become an open sore. The area may blister and appear discolored. The sore at this stage is very painful.
- Stage three- Wounds at this stage may look like a crater. The tissue surrounding the sore continues to deteriorate. Stage three bed sores become very deep.
- Stage four- This is a dangerous stage for bed sore patients. The bed sore will become very deep and infection is much more likely. Bed sores at this point have become a large wound affecting even the muscles, tendons, and bones.
Areas of the body that are more likely to develop bed sores include the hips, heals, lower back, back of the head, and the shoulder blades. Once sores develop, it is essential to keep pressure off the sores and to keep them clean in an effort to prevent infection.
Take steps to prevention
Immobile patients should not be allowed to lay or sit in the same position for hours. Caregivers have the responsibility to ensure than these patients are moved into a different position regularly. Special mattresses, mattress covers, and foam padding can help relieve the pressure to areas of the body at higher risk for developing bed sores.
Learn to identify the signs of nursing home neglect. If you suspect abuse is occurring, report your suspicions to the proper authorities. If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home negligence, the nursing home abuse lawyers at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your concerns. For more information on nursing home neglect, download your free copy of Nursing Home Neglect How To Recognize It And Stop It.