Blog Post

Bedsores And Nursing Home Abuse

Families often place their loved ones in a nursing home in order to ensure that they receive proper attention and care. No elderly or debilitated person should suffer bedsores while living in a nursing home or other elder care facility. Unfortunately, many residents of nursing homes do develop bedsores, also referred to as pressure sores or ulcers. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) more than 2.5 million individuals develop bed sores in the United States each year. While some of these cases are related to lengthy hospital stays, there is no doubt the majority are linked to nursing homes. Those wanting to learn more about bedsores and nursing home abuse are invited to reach out to Chuck Franklin directly at 480-545-0700.

What Are Bedsores?

Decubitus ulcers (bedsores) are most often found on elderly people who are left sedentary in beds or wheelchairs for extremely long periods of time. According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores develop as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin which causes injury not only to the skin, but underlying tissue as well. The most common areas where bedsores develop are the hips, ankles, tailbone, spine and other bony areas. In just hours or a few days, bedsores can develop when a person lies in bed in one position without being turned. Nursing home staff often neglect to turn those in their care or reposition elderly residents as frequently as they should to prevent bedsores, which can become serious or deadly.

Stages of Bedsore Development

Bedsores range in seriousness according to the level of development reached. Those in the medical field often rate bedsores from stage 1 (least serious) to stage 4 (most serious).

  • Stage 1 bedsores refer to skin that is unbroken and darkened but may be painful when touched.
  • Stage 2 bedsores are often pink- or red-toned; the external (dermis) layer of the skin begins wearing away, with possible damage to the epidermis (layer beneath the dermis). The skin may appear blistered or indented if damage to the epidermis has begun.
  • Stage 3 bedsores refer to substantial wounds where yellowish dead tissue and fat may be visible in a deep skin opening; damage to deeper tissue may be present but not visible.
  • Stage 4 bedsores are the most serious of all, and described as large wounds that may expose tendons, muscles, or bone; tissues in and around the wound experience substantial destruction.

Some bedsores never completely heal, especially without proper medical treatment. Bedsores are a strong indicator of nursing home abuse.

Bedsores and Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home and extended care facility staff are there to provide care to those who cannot care for themselves in a safe, comfortable environment. These facilities provide nourishment, hygienic care, necessary medications, and other services to those who reside within them. In caring for aging residents, one responsibility is to prevent potential health concerns such as bedsores when possible.

The fact is many people who work at nursing homes do not have a genuine concern for those in their care. Residents are often neglected in many ways, including doing what is necessary to prevent bedsores. When a resident is left in a wheelchair for hours on end or lies in bed for an extended period without being turned, it is blatant nursing home abuse. Those who believe their loved ones are being neglected in a nursing home may want to consider consulting with an Arizona nursing home abuse attorney at Chuck Franklin Law.

Bedsores and Potential Complications

According to the Mayo Clinic when left untreated, bedsores may lead to complications, some life-threatening. These complications may include:

  • Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that generally affects the lower legs and may spread to the bloodstream and lymph nodes if left untreated. The affected area may be red, warm, and swollen.
  • Infection of the joints and bones. Septic arthritis and osteomyelitis may develop when a bedsore infection tunnels into bones and joints.
  • Cancer. Wounds left untreated that do not heal can evolve into a form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, although this is rare.
  • Sepsis. Sepsis is an infection in the bloodstream that may develop as a result of bedsores. While this rarely occurs, sepsis can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Considering the potential complications, nursing homes must be held accountable when they fail to provide proper care for residents.

Nursing Home Federal Regulations

There are many state and federal laws designed to protect residents from neglect and abuse. In 1987 Congress executed legislation requiring nursing homes to observe specific quality of care rules regarding participation in Medicare and Medicaid. These regulations require nursing homes to:

  • Employ adequate nursing staff
  • Develop a complete plan of care for each resident
  • Promote quality of life for every resident
  • Maintain each resident’s respect and dignity
  • Maintain clinical records on each resident that are easily accessible, complete, and accurate
  • Initially administer an accurate and thorough assessment of the functional capacity of each resident
  • Make certain that residents receive assistive devices (walkers, wheelchairs, etc.) and sufficient supervision to prevent accidents
  • Make certain that residents do not develop bedsores; when a resident has bedsores, nursing home staff must provide treatment and services essential to healing and prevention of new sores or infection

These are a few examples of federal regulations regarding the care, treatment, and supervision nursing homes must provide. Nursing home abuse is rampant; families must perform due diligence and careful consideration when choosing a nursing home or long-term care facility for their loved ones.

Consider Contacting an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Now

Bedsores and nursing home abuse are unfortunately common in Arizona nursing homes and those across the country. Nursing home operators and the staff they employ must take great care to ensure they are providing a safe environment for residents, and ensure the best possible physical, mental, and emotional health for residents. Bedsores often do indicate neglect in nursing homes and family members should take note of any indication their elderly loved one is being abused. Those with questions or concerns about nursing home abuse are invited to schedule a consultation with Chuck Franklin directly at 480-545-0700.

A healthcare provider in a white coat gently examines a patient's leg on a bed with soft lighting in the background, possibly evaluating for skin integrity or signs of neglect such as bedsores.

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