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Bedsores

By: John A. Blyth

Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers, are caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. Bedsores can cause infections and other life threatening conditions like cancer, sepsis, gas gangrene, and bone and joint infections. Bedsores usually develop in areas of the body where bone and skin are in very close contact (bony areas), such as the skin around or near the back of the head, shoulders, elbows, back, hips, tailbone, and especially along the spine, ankles, and heels.

In a nursing home setting, bedsores are a common problem and one of the many signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Nursing home residents frequently contract bedsores due to their lack of mobility, often remaining sedentary in a bed or wheelchair. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10% of residents in nursing homes currently suffer from bedsores.

Bedsore Classification

Bedsores are categorized based on their severity, as follows:

Stage 1 is the least severe. At this stage the sores are not open wounds. The skin may be painful but there are no breaks or tears. However, the person will experience persistent redness of skin.

At stage 2 the skin breaks open and forms an ulcer that might appear as a blister. There may be a loss of partial thickness of the skin as the sore extends into deeper layers of the skin. At this stage, the skin becomes tender and painful.

During stage 3 the sore gets worse and the ulcer exhibits a loss of full thickness of the skin, with the sore extending into the tissue beneath the skin until a deep crater is visible.

Stage 4 is the most severe sore causing extensive damage. At this stage, the sore is very deep, causing a loss of full thickness of the skin and reaching into muscle and bone.

Bedsores are extremely painful and are considered to be serious medical conditions. In fact, the presence or lack of bedsores is one of the main ways that quality of care in a nursing home can be assessed. Bedsores are preventable if nursing home staff members follow proper medical care and daily patient monitoring procedures.

Nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities are supposed to provide their patients with high-quality care. There are specific standards that care facilities must follow to ensure that they provide the necessary quality care and services. When a new patient enters a facility, the facility must provide the “necessary treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new sores from developing.” These standards can be found in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 483.25(c), created by the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other agencies.

Bedsores Legal Help

Bedsores often develop through neglect, when the patient does not receive adequate care, including the failure to regularly reposition immobilized residents. A nursing home may be held liable or legally responsible for any bedsores that an individual subsequently suffers.

If your loved one is suffering from bedsores due to the inattention or inadequate care of a nursing home or long-term care facility, contact Hach & Rose, LLP, today by calling (212) 779-0057 to speak with a qualified New York nursing home abuse attorney.

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