The idea of spending a few days in bed may seem like heaven on earth to some, but the reality is there are many patients who are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair for extended periods. It can be very difficult for many patients to adjust to and often very painful. Those patients rely on nurses and rehab facilities to take care of them. When those people fail it is negligence and can lead to a lawsuit.
Due to a lack of activity for long periods, bedridden and wheelchair patients, become vulnerable to various health complications such as circulation and respiratory problems, depression and contractures. One of the most unfortunate and common health risks for bedridden patients is pressure ulcers or bedsores as they are most commonly known.
Unfortunately, bedsores are generally a sign of neglect and are a common sight in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 1 out of 10 residents in an in-patient treatment center currently suffer from bedsores. Staff in these centers needs to remain aware that patients, of all ages and health, are at risk for bedsores and need to be diligent with preventive care.
Bedsores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Most of us have full mobility to rotate our bodies, which keeps the blood flowing normally avoiding any risk of bedsores. However, those with limited mobility are usually unable to rotate their bodies easily and therefore have poor blood circulation. Sitting or lying in the same position for long periods on areas of decreased blood supply adds pressure causing the bedsores. Over time, the decreased blood supply causes the flesh in these areas to die and form sores that can become very deep and can even become infected causing further complications, categorized into 4 stages.
Pressure on skin and tissues that cover bony areas of the body are at the biggest risk for breaking down and causing bedsores. Heels, ankles, hips, shoulders and tailbones are the most common areas and patients immobilized with medical conditions such as joint replacements, hip, pelvis or leg fractures, paralysis or coma are most at risk.
The severity of bedsores is based on how deep the sores are and the accompanying symptoms. As previously mentioned, there are essentially 4 stages to pressure sores. The stage number reflects the severity of the bedsore damage, with four being the greatest level of damage. As a bedsore progresses in severity, it becomes increasingly more difficult to correct.
Here are the four stages of bedsores to be aware of as well as treatment options:
Stage 1 Bedsore
Stage 1 is the beginning stage for a bedsore and only affects the upper layer of skin. Symptoms can include pain, burning or itching. The first and most important thing to do is to stop the pressure by changing position or using foam pads, pillows or mattresses. Washing the area with mild soap and dry gently. Eating a diet high in protein, vitamin A & C and Iron and Zinc are all helpful to your skins condition.
Stage 2 Bedsore
Once a sore has become an open wound, the bedsore has reached stage 2. This becomes very painful, as the skin is broken, swollen and tender. Sometimes this stage looks like a blister filled with clear pus. Skin also becomes damaged beyond repair in this stage. For treatment, you would follow the same steps as in stage 1, but also be sure to keep the sore covered with a see through dressing or moist gauze.
Stage 3 Bedsore
Here, the sore has deepened into a serious wound, forming a small crater. This indicates permanently destroyed tissue. Bad odor, red and yellow infected edges and drainage are all signs of infection. Stage 3 will need more care and your doctor may need to remove any dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics to fight any infections.
Stage 4 Bedsore
Stage 4 bedsores are the most serious and at the most advanced stage. The sores destroy muscle, bone and even tendons and joints and can often be lethal. It is imperative to tell your doctor right away as stage 4 can require surgery.
In stages 3 and 4 there is often excruciating pain due to significant tissue damage. Serious complications, such as infections to the bone or blood can also occur.
Pressure injuries can also be “unstageable,” meaning that the doctor cannot see the base of the sore to determine the stage. In some cases, a deep pressure injury is suspected but cannot be confirmed. These are DTI, or deep tissue injuries. This occurs when there isn’t an open wound, but the tissues beneath the surface have been damaged.
Those with bedsores can experience discomfort, great pain, depression and a reduced quality of life. If you have been a victim of medical neglect, contact an experienced attorney right away to get the help you deserve. If you would like our help, fill out our contact form or call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation with a lawyer.