Bed Sores: The Silent Killer For Patients And Nursing Home Residents
If you have a loved one that is being admitted into a nursing home or hospital your immediate concern may be your loved one’s immediate medical condition. Is your relative getting his or her medicine? Is she eating? How is his or her mental state? But many families of hospital patients or nursing home residents don’t ask a question that may not be so obvious—is your loved one being moved enough if he or she is immobile?
What are Bed Sores?
Immobility leads to a silent killer in nursing homes: Bedsores, sometimes called decubitus ulcers. A bedsore happens when the skin rubs constantly, with pressure, against a surface, such as a bedsheet. Imagine your elbow pressing against a car armrest on a long car ride, or the soreness your toes may get after a long day of pressing against socks.
Tailbone Area is At Risk
In the elderly who may be bedridden, one area that is under constant pressure and contact with the bed is the tailbone area.
Here, friction between the tailbone and the bed is constant; even slight movements of the body often won’t move the tailbone region, and sadly, many elderly patients are not strong, healthy or alert enough to move themselves. And family who visit loved ones may not even see the sore that is developing underneath; from the outside (or the front), the patient may seem just fine.
Even residents themselves may not realize that they are developing a bedsore. Conscious patients may have nerve damage or be on medication that makes them unaware of the wound that is developing underneath them.
Bed sores can vary in severity, and are given severity ranks. Stage I is the least severe type of bed sore, where skin may be red and irritated, but may not be completely broken. The most severe is a stage IV bedsore. In stage IV, the wound is open and exposed, often accompanied by dead tissue. The inner parts of the body have been disintegrated by the pressure of the bed underneath the patient. Bone may even be exposed, as the skin, muscles and tissues have worn away.
Compounding the obvious dangers of having a gaping open wound, is the immediate risk of infection, coupled by a sick patient’s inability to fight off this kind of infection.
As serious as bed sores are, they are relatively easy to avoid; nursing home or hospital staff need only to move patients on a regular basis, to alleviate pressure in a single area of the body. Many modern hospitals and homes even have beds that will automatically move and adjust. Some beds are even filled with special gels or liquids, which will avoid constant pressure on any one area.
Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, for help today if you are injured or have a loved one that is injured in a nursing home or a hospital due to malpractice or neglect.