A bedsore is a skin sore that often develops because of pressure on the skin caused by lying in bed in one position.
Bedsores are commonly associated with medical patients who are confined to their beds, wheelchairs, or similar locations. But, medical staff or families should be moving patients enough so that bedsores never occur. Bedsores can be provided by keeping the skin clean and dry, moving frequently, and changing bedding regularly. They are often associated with nursing home abuse and, in some cases, medical malpractice claims.
Bedsores commonly appear in one of several areas on the skin, including:
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the legs or arms
Although pressure is the most common cause of bedsores, they can also be caused by friction, shearing (when two objects move in opposite directions of one another, such as the skin being pinched), and general neglect regarding other health conditions. Bedsores are almost always preventable, so they are a big red flag that someone is wrong with your loved one or their care.
Bedsores and Medical Malpractice Cases
There has been a significant increase in recent years of elderly people being taken care of in their own homes by professionals or in assisted living and long-term care facilities. Statistics indicate that the number of people who are considered “senior citizens” is expected to significantly increase. Overcrowding in facilities and having enough trained individuals to care for those in assisted living is becoming a real concern.
Regardless, those who care for our elderly loved ones are required to provide a certain minimum level of care. When they don’t do that, and bedsores result, they may be liable for medical malpractice. That type of liability is triggered when a medical professional fails to take action to prevent bedsores. In other circumstances, bedsores are the result of nursing home abuse, which is sometimes considered a form of medical malpractice when it arises in the context of medical care.
Causes of Bedsores
Bedsores are a tell-tale sign that your loved one is not receiving the treatment that they should in an assisted living or medical care facility. Bedsores are completely preventable, which means that someone has failed to do their job when they appear. Common causes of bedsores include:
- Failing to move a patient at least every few hours on a regular basis
- Not using pressure-reducing or relieving mattresses
- Declining to provide other pressure-reducing measures, such as using cushions or pillows to relieve pressure
- Not changing linens as often as required (to reduce moisture and other general sanitary requirements)
- Failing to inspect the patient’s body for signs of increased pressure
- Not ensuring that your loved one is well-hydrated and nourished
- Failing to treat bedsores properly when they appear
Elderly people and medical patients often cannot communicate their discomfort or pain. We rely heavily on caretakers to ensure that bedsores don’t develop. These conditions can be very painful and are prone to infection. They can cause even more serious health conditions as a result.
What can I do to help address bedsores?
Be aware that bedsores progress in stages, so they will tend to get worse if the cause isn’t addressed quickly.
You, as a loved one, should take steps to ensure that your loved one’s needs are addressed. If you notice any red flags, including red spots or raw areas of skin on your loved one, speak up. Talk to the caretaker about how often your loved one is being moved, when sheets are changed, and discuss their practices regarding cleanliness and sanitation. When nursing home workers know that family is watching their loved one closely, such neglect and abuse is less likely to occur in the first place.
Although you shouldn’t have to worry about your loved one’s care when they are in the hands of a professional, it’s still a good idea to look out for your loved one’s best interests as much as you can. Chances are that if your loved one has bedsores, others who don’t have someone else to speak on their behalf are also going through similar treatment.
Getting Help After Discovering Bedsores
John Foy & Associates has been helping victims of nursing home abuse and their loved ones for over two decades. If you suspect that medical malpractice or nursing home abuse is occurring, you need to take action–and we can help you get that process started. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form and get your FREE consultation today.