Bedsores are one of the most common injuries elderly persons sustain during their residencies in nursing homes. Because of the frequency with which they occur, most people write them off as “normal” or even “minor,” but you should not.
If you notice that an elderly loved one develops bedsore, you should request treatment for him or her right away. When left untreated, bedsores can result in severe — and possibly life-threatening — complications.
The four stages of bedsores
According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, bedsores occur in four stages. In the first, the wound is present but not open or painful. In the second, the sore takes on the appearance of an ulcer and breaks open just slightly. In stage three, it may reveal fatty tissue, but not bone or muscle. In the fourth and final stage, bedsore will reveal bone and muscle. In stage four, bedsore puts the elderly person at risk for severe and life-threatening complications. The stages progress quickly, which is why health professionals recommend treatment right away, and as soon as a family member or staff member notices the sore.
Stage 4 bedsore complications
In stage four, bedsore may take on a darkened or even blackish appearance. The wound will be so deep as to expose the muscle, bone, tendons and tissues. Your loved one may show signs of infection at this point, which may include a bad odor, fever, blisters, and/or pus or drainage at the site of infection.
Once the infection is present, your loved one is at risk for a rapid decline in health. The biggest risk to his or her health is a bacterial infection. Many bacteria associated with bedsores are resistant to antibiotics. Even if the bacteria do respond to antibiotics, they may be so high in number that the tissue will become unable to heal itself.
Another risk of stage 4 bedsores is cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection that spreads to the bloodstream and, eventually, the lymph nodes. Cellulitis, when left untreated, is deadly. Other types of infections your loved one may develop include endocarditis, bacteremia and meningitis.
In the worst cases, stage 4 bedsores result in sepsis. Even with advancements in medical care, and even in healthy people, sepsis is deadly, killing every one in five people affected by it.
Bedsores are no minor injuries, and they are not something you should turn your head at. If your elderly loved one develops bedsore, seek medical care on his or her behalf right away. If complications have already developed, or if you lost a loved one because of bedsore complications, seek help from a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer right away.