Nursing Home Neglect and Pressure Ulcers
One type of injury that is common in nursing homes are pressure sores, also called pressure ulcers or bed sores. These types of sores are damaged areas of the skin – damage occurs as a result of consistent pressure being applied for an extensive amount of time. Typically, they form on bedridden patients who are unable to move themselves without assistance, and as such develop on the heels, tailbone, back, elbows, and other areas that are constantly in pressure with a bed.
Pressure ulcers are both painful and dangerous. However, they can be avoided by ensuring that a patient is moved frequently, and is well-cared for otherwise (i.e. good nutrition and hydration, etc.). Because pressure ulcers are preventable, they are almost always a sign of nursing home neglect.
Stages of Pressure Ulcers
The degree and severity of a pressure ulcer is measured by stage, with a stage one pressure ulcer being the least severe. At the initial stage, the wound is characterized by darkly pigmented skin, pain, and changes in sensation. As the wound gets worse (more pressure is placed on it), it can develop through all stages and eventually become a full pressure injury, which is characterized by a deep injury with tissue loss. It is important to note that the more serious the ulcer, the greater the risk of complication. Complications include cellulitis, bone and joint infections, cancer, and sepsis.
How Neglect Leads to Pressure Ulcers
As stated above, pressure ulcers are preventable. The easiest and most effective way to prevent pressure ulcers is to ensure that a patient is frequently repositioned. Additionally, the use of a specialty lift or wheelchair, and cushions designed to alleviate pressure can also help. Further, protecting the skin, inspecting in daily, and ensuring that a resident is getting the treatment they require otherwise, such as good nutrition, medication they need, etc. are all essential.
Unfortunately, nursing homes are often understaffed with nurses overworked. This often means that some patients are neglected, are not moved nor inspected on a regular basis, and develop pressure ulcers as a result.
What to Do if Your Loved One Has Pressure Ulcers
If you have a loved in a nursing home who has developed pressure ulcers, the most important thing is ensuring that they get the level of care they need to treat the pressure ulcers. From there, our law firm can help you to understand options for bringing forth a medical malpractice claim and holding a nursing home liable for harm. To learn more, please call the Oklahoma City law offices of Brown & Gould, PLLC today. We have the experience and skill set you can depend upon.