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Bedsores in nursing homes: What causes them

Bedsores (which are often called “pressure ulcers” by those in the medical field) are basically skin wounds caused by nothing more than repeated pressure and force against the body — often from the victim’s own body. They typically occur anywhere that a patient’s body rests against a bed or wheelchair, especially when that patient can’t easily move on their own.

Bedsores often present first as shiny, hot spots on the victim’s skin. Since they can develop quickly, they may rapidly turn into seeping wounds that leave muscle and bone exposed.

Nursing homes like to tell people that bedsores are virtually inevitable when a patient isn’t mobile — but that’s simply not true. Bedsores generally occur three different ways:

  1. They’re caused by shearing. A shear injury happens when a person’s skin moves in one direction while the muscle and bone it covers moves in another. Since older skin can be very fragile, this can happen when patients are carelessly adjusted in beds or chairs without enough attention to their comfort.
  2. They can result from friction. Clothing and bedding can be harsh on an elderly person’s delicate skin. Sweat and moisture from a bath can make clothing stick to a person’s skin, creating even more friction. It’s possible to get a “burn” from the friction when the blankets or clothing are too rough.
  3. They happen because of constant pressure. Medical professionals have known for decades that the No. 1 way to keep bedsores away is to make sure that immobile patients are moved every few hours.

If your loved one developed bedsores in a nursing home or other care facility, it’s never “just one of those things.” It’s an avoidable injury, and you have every right to seek compensation for your loved one’s pain, suffering and losses.

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