Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, refer to an injury to the skin and the
skin’s underlying tissues. As the name indicates, bedsores or pressure
ulcers are caused by having pressure against the skin for a prolonged
period of time. Usually, bedsores develop around bony areas of the body
where there is little muscle and fat covering the bone. For example, bedsores
commonly develop on the hips, knees, ankles, and along the tailbone.
People who are in good health and able to walk around do not typically
get bedsores because they don’t lay down for prolong periods of
time. Instead, those who are afflicted with bedsores the most are people
who have a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to move
around and change positions. Bedsores usually develop in people who are
confined to a bed or a chair, and they frequently occur in the nursing
Symptoms of bedsores:
- Swelling and tenderness,
- Red, broken skin,
- Changes in the skin’s texture and color,
- A pus-like substance drains from the sore, and
- The wound feels warmer or cooler to the touch than other parts of the body.
Bedsores vary in severity; a new bedsore can appear red with unbroken skin,
while an advanced bedsore left untreated can be a deep injury that penetrates
the muscle and bone. If a bedsore develops, it’s important for the
individual’s position to be changed to take the pressure off of
the area. If the bedsore does not improve within 48 hours, medical intervention
Causes of bedsores:
- Too much pressure on an area of the body, which decreases the blood flow
in the tissues. Blood flow cannot be underestimated; it’s vital
so that oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the tissues. Without
adequate blood flow, the skin and surrounding tissues can die.
- Friction can lead to bedsores – this happens when a person’s
skin is rubbed by bedding or clothing. If the skin is fragile to begin
with, excess friction can lead to bedsores.
- Shear can lead to bedsores. Shear is where two surfaces, such as skin and
a bed, are moving in the opposite direction – this can lead to sores.
What are the risk factors?
- Inadequate nutrition leads to bedsores because people need proper nutrition
to maintain healthy skin.
- Dehydration can lead to bedsores because it compromises the skin’s health.
- Being confined to a bed or wheelchair (immobility).
- Certain medical conditions that decrease blood flow, such as diabetes,
increase the risk of bedsores.
Bedsores are not to be ignored, they can lead to serious complications,
such as cellulitis, bone and joint infections, cancer and sepsis (although
sepsis is rare). Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for bedsores to
develop in nursing home patients as a
result of neglect. If your loved one has developed bedsores in the nursing home setting,
know that bedsores are not something to be tolerated or ignored. Often,
bedsores are a direct result of poor nutrition or dehydration, or the
failure to move patients so they will have adequate blood flow.
To learn more about your loved one’s rights,
contact our office to schedule a
free consultation with a West Palm Beach nursing home abuse attorney!