Bedsores are a big risk for elderly patients confined to a bed. These sores are also called decubitus ulcers or pressure sores. The skin tissue is damaged because patients cannot move around to get blood circulating through the area. Bedsores are common on the hip, spine, elbows and heels, anywhere that skin presses against the bed for long periods of time. Some patients who use a wheelchair can get bedsores on their feet or buttocks.
Bedsores do not start with an open wound. According to Harvard Health Publications, the pressure that causes bedsores does not even have to be very intense, it just has to cut off the blood supply to the skin. Recognizing the first signs of a bedsore can prevent further damage to the skin. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should check for red patches of skin that do not turn white when a finger is pressed on the area. The area of skin might be painful, or just itchy and tender. For patients with dark skin, the area might appear to be a different color than the surrounding skin.
Treating bedsores early prevents the skin from further damage. As a bedsore gets worse, it can progress into the nerve and muscle tissue. It can blister and cause an open wound, which is more difficult to heal. Being proactive in the care of your loved one is often the best way to ensure proper care of your family member in the nursing home.
Not every bedsore is due to negligence or abuse, but many are. Nursing homes may not have the staff or may not have trained the staff to adequately care for your loved one. If your family member has multiple bedsores, you might want to discuss your situation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you hold the nursing home responsible if neglect was the cause.