Bedsores. The term may sound relatively harmless, but this condition can lead to serious complications or death if not discovered and treated in time. When a person is immobile, areas of the body that are in contact with a mattress or wheelchair can be damaged due to a lack of blood circulation.
This is why nursing home residents with mobility problems need to be repositioned frequently and closely monitored. Unfortunately, many nursing homes neglect to do so. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that 11 percent of nursing home residents suffer from pressure ulcers, which typically appear on the elbow, heel, tailbone or hip — areas that are not protected by muscle or fat. The weight of an immobile body can compress blood vessels in these areas, causing the tissue to die. Bedsores may present as a reddened or discolored surface abrasion, but can quickly progress if not treated. Possible complications include:
- Cellulitis — an acute infection of skin and underlying tissue
- Tissue necrosis, which spreads rapidly and can be fatal
- Bone or joint infection
- Gangrene, caused by introduction of Clostridium bacteria into the body
- Sepsis, which progresses rapidly and can cause organ failure
- Cancerous carcinoma
These complications require hospitalization and an extensive — and expensive — wound care regimen. However, nursing homes have a duty to prevent pressure sores from occurring in the first place. They can do so by implementing these simple, cost-effective measures:
- Help immobile residents shift their position frequently
- Provide proper mattresses and pads
- Keep skin surfaces clean
- Make sure residents are hydrated and eating properly
- Monitor residents closely, especially if they are frail
- Report appearance of bedsores immediately
Nursing homes that are understaffed or fail to provide proper care to residents can be held liable if their negligence results in serious harm or wrongful death. Speak to a personal injury lawyer with skill in Indiana nursing home regulations if your loved one is suffering from the long-term complications of a pressure ulcer.