Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers, are wounds to a person’s skin and underlying tissue. They occur because of prolonged pressure on an area of the body or friction and shearing between the skin and other surfaces. Sores typically occurs when people are consistently in the same position for prolonged periods of time or are moved improperly. In nursing homes, areas of your loved one’s body can suffer from prolonged pressure due to your relative always lying down or sitting in the same position. They can also occur when physicians, nurses, or nursing assistants are rough or do not move your loved one carefully.
Bedsores or pressure sores are not minor injuries. Without proper medical care, they can become severe and lead to infections. If you notice any nursing home pressure sores on your elderly loved one or see signs that sores are developing, get your relative appropriate medical treatment right away and contact our nursing home abuse attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC right away.
Call (715) 343-2850 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Symptoms of Bedsores
If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, you should know the signs of pressure sores. Common symptoms include:
- Unusual changes in the skin’s color or texture depending on the individual’s skin tone and the stage of the ulcer
- An area of the skin feels warmer or cooler than the rest of the body
- Open wounds
The Stages of Pressure Sores
Stage 1 bedsores may not look too serious. At this point, the skin is not broken, though it may be a bit discolored and swollen. If an individual has darker skin, an early pressure sore can look dark blue or purple. For individuals with lighter skin, a beginning sore can look red. There are also instances in which Stage 1 bedsores look white. When these signs are noticed, it is important to address them immediately and consistently. Otherwise, a bedsore can worsen dramatically.
When a pressure ulcer progresses to Stage 2, it is now an open wound with some dead tissue, though it can look like a scrape or abrasion. It will feel tender and painful. The sore is usually shallow with a pink-red wound. You may also notice a fluid-filled blister. At this point, some of the skin could be damaged beyond repair. However, it is a treatable condition.
If a Stage 2 bedsore is not treated immediately, it can progress to a Stage 3 sore, which affects deeper layers of the skin and underlying tissue. It will look like a deep wound or crater with a great deal of dead tissue. Fat may show and there may be pus.
Stage 4 is the worst stage of a bedsore and at this point, the wound is so deep that it has reached muscle, tendons, and bone. At both Stage 3 and 4, your loved one may not feel a great deal of pain due to the extent of tissue damage. These are also the stages in which other complications become more common.
Complications from Bedsores
Not only are pressure sores serious injuries that need to be avoided and properly treated, they also lead to more serious complications. The skin and underlying tissue affected by a pressure ulcer can become infected. The bones and joints near sores can also become infected. For elderly individuals, any of these types of infections puts their health and life at risk. Fighting off an infection at an older age and with other medical conditions is incredibly difficult.
Less common but possible complications or bedsores are cancer and sepsis. Long-term, non-healing wounds can develop a type of carcinoma. Also, the fight against an infection can lead to sepsis and septic shock, which can result in death.
Bedsores Are Not Normal
It is essential to understand that bed sores are not a normal part of living in a nursing home environment. There are numerous ways for nursing home staff to help your loved one avoid bed sores. These include ensuring your loved one receives enough exercise or movement and that staff members are extremely careful and gentle when moving your loved one from a position or place to another. Making sure your loved one has nutritious food, water, and proper hygiene also decreases the chance of a pressure ulcer.
When caretakers ignore these steps or fail to notice warning signs of a pressure sore, they are being careless or reckless, if not willfully harmful. Even when your loved one is confined to a wheel chair or bed, steps should be taken to avoid injuries like bedsores. If one begins to develop, it should be treated immediately to ensure it does not develop into further stages. The longer your loved one’s bedsore is allowed to progress, the greater likelihood that it will not heal properly and your relative will suffer an even greater injury.
Filing a Legal Claim Based on Bedsores
If your loved one has suffered due to bedsores, they may have a right to bring a personal injury claim against the nursing home. If there is evidence that your relative’s wounds were caused by the facility’s staff, then they can pursue compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of society and companionship
- Property damage, when applicable
- Punitive Damages, when applicable
If your loved one passed away due to complications arising from bedsores, you may have the right to bring a wrongful death suit against the nursing home. Upon presenting evidence of negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, you can request compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of financial contributions
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of society and companionship
Contact Our Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawyers Today
If you have discovered your loved one has one or more bedsores from living at a nursing home, contact our experienced Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys from Studinski Law, LLC today. We are here to review your loved one’s situation and determine their legal rights, including whether they have a personal injury claim. Call us today at (715) 343-2850.