Bedsores: A Sure Sign of Nursing Home Neglect
If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, you want the best care possible. Unfortunately, too often elders in nursing facilities are neglected, compromising their health and inflicting unnecessary suffering. One of the worst consequences of nursing home neglect is bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers. Not only are bedsores extremely painful, but they serve as conduits for life-threatening infections. To protect your elder loved one from bedsores, you have to recognize the warning signs and demand preventative treatment.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores occur when there is sustained pressure, friction or shear. In the nursing home setting, these factors appear when:
- The patient is sedentary — Staying in bed or in a wheelchair all day or for prolonged periods puts pressure on the skin and underlying tissues. Pressure prevents blood vessels from bringing essential nutrients to the tissues. Pressure is common in areas of the spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, buttocks, heels and elbows.
- The patient rubs against the bedding — Friction is common on the backs of the heels and elbows as an elder tries to adjust in bed.
- The patient’s skin is pulled or rubbed — When the head of a patient’s bed is elevated, that patient can slide down. This can cause shear in the area of the buttocks and tailbone, as well as the shoulder blades.
You may notice warning signs of impending bedsores, such as redness on the heels, elbows, back, buttocks, tailbone and the back of the head. If so, you should speak to the staff supervisor and request that preventative measures be taken immediately. These include:
- Activity — Getting out of bed and walking or sitting in a chair relieves pressure from lying down and allows blood to circulate to the skin.
- Repositioning —If your elder is bedridden, repositioning should be part of the regular care schedule. A staff member should reposition your loved one in bed, help the elder transition to a wheelchair, and reposition the elder occasionally while in the chair.
- Skin care — Staff should gently clean patients, protect their skin with talcum powder where it might be too wet, and moisturize dry skin. Incontinent patients must be cleaned and dried. The elder’s skin should be inspected daily. Reddening skin should be covered and protected.
- Nutrition — A healthy diet is essential for healthy skin.
In even the most vulnerable patients, there is rarely any excuse for bedsores. These injuries are almost always a sign of caregiver neglect.
If you have questions about mistreatment of a loved one in a nursing home, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Rudberg Law Offices, LLC to schedule a free consultation.