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Nursing Home Injuries: Pressure Sores

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Standing Up for the Rights of Patients

Pressure sores are some of the most common injuries nursing home residents suffer. Also called “bed sores” and “pressure ulcers,” these sores are a leading sign of nursing home abuse or neglect. If left untreated, pressure sores can cause serious complications and even lead to death.

At Slappey & Sadd, we work with concerned family members who have placed a loved one in a nursing home. If you notice pressure sores, you should carefully document when and how frequently they occur. If you feel that your loved one is being abused, then please reach out to a Georgia nursing home abuse attorney today by calling 404.255.6677.

What Causes Pressure Sores?

Pressure sores develop when a person rests for too long of a time in one position. Experts recommend that people be moved at least every two hours. However, negligent or even abusive staff will move residents far less frequently, and many elderly residents, unfortunately, cannot move themselves.

Pressure sores develop most often where skin and bone are in close contact:

  • Back
  • Elbow
  • Hips
  • Ankles
  • Heels

Pressure sores can easily become infected, so staff must identify them quickly and take corrective action. If your loved one is complaining about pain in a certain body part, ask staff members to investigate. A pressure sore might have developed, which requires immediate treatment.

Why are Pressure Sores a Risk?

It usually isn’t the sore itself that is a problem. Though they cause pain, they can heal if doctors prescribe the proper treatment. However, sores are at a heightened risk of infection. And nursing homes frequently struggle to rid their facilities of deadly infections. In fact, inadequate infection control is one of the most common citations nursing homes receive.

Any number of infections can circulate around a nursing home. Some might be resistant to common antibiotics. But any infection can be devastating for the elderly, who do not have the ability to fight off infections the way a young person does.

Also, infections can lead to sepsis, a condition where the body releases chemicals to fight an infection but the chemicals cause inflammation in the body, leading to elevated heart rate, shock, and sometimes death. According to statistics, about 25,000 nursing home residents die while suffering from sepsis each year.

What are the Stages of Bed Sores?

Pressure sores have four stages. The higher the stage, the more serious the pressure sore:

  • Stage 1: The skin remains intact but is becoming sore. On people with light skin, the area will appear red; however, those with darker skin might not see any sore developing though they notice discomfort.
  • Stage 2: The sore becomes an open wound and possibly looks like a crater. The surrounding fat might be infected and appear as a blister.
  • Stage 3: The sore is now a deep wound and has infected healthy skin layers. Open skin can show fat around the infected area.
  • Stage 4: The pressure sore is now at its most advanced stage. The wound has exposed underlying tissue, such as muscles, tendons, and bones. The pressure sore might also show dead tissue.

Regardless of the stage, pressure sores are serious and should be brought to the attention of nursing home staff. Remember to follow up to make sure that the sore has not progressed since the last time you visited. If you do not think the staff is treating the sore properly, ask to speak to management.

How are Pressure Sores Treated?

Treatment will depend on the stage of the sore. For example, a Stage 1 pressure sore can be cleaned with special solutions and treated with antibiotics to prevent infection. It goes without saying that staff should regularly reposition the resident so that no new sores develop and the current stage 1 sore does not worsen to stage 2 or 3. Nursing homes can also provide specialized cushions or mattresses that should help minimize the development of pressure sores.

More advanced pressure sores require more aggressive treatment. Many patients will need surgery to remove damaged tissue. The wound must also be properly cleaned and bandaged so that it does not become infected. Patients should also receive antibiotics and pain medication to relieve discomfort.

Diet is also vital to helping residents overcome pressure sores (and possibly not develop them in the first place). Particularly, residents should eat a balanced diet full of leafy green vegetables and remember to enough water. If at all possible, residents should also exercise, though this is not a possibility for most, who develop bed sores precisely because they can’t move on their own.

Nursing Homes and Legal Liability for Pressure Sores

A nursing home should not allow pressure sores to develop in the first place. If they do, the staff should take immediate corrective action and treat the sore, preferably before it advances to stage 2 or beyond. When a stage 3 or 4 pressure sore exists, then staff has almost assuredly been grossly negligent. Late stage pressure sores only develop when staff have refused to do a proper inspection of your loved one and have refused to treat the pressure sore properly.

If your loved one needs surgery to correct the sore, then this can cost considerable money. You should seriously consider suing the nursing home for compensation. Many people can receive money to pay for the cost of medical treatment but also for the pain and suffering that your loved one has endured.

Contact a Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Pressure sores are unacceptable, and you must hold the nursing home accountable. At Slappey & Sadd, our nursing home abuse attorneys have the skills to build a strong case against nursing homes for compensation. All you need to do is pick up the phone and contact us.

To schedule a free consultation, please call 404.255.6677 or fill out our contact form. We understand how difficult it can be to talk about nursing home abuse, so our consultations are completely confidential.

Serving the entire state of Georgia, including Richmond County, Troup County, and Whitfield County.

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