Bedsores are not the kind of thing you would normally associate with nursing homes. They are a different breed entirely and are known as “bed sores” – or, more accurately, bedsores. What they are, in essence, are wounds to the skin usually caused by bedsores. While many different things can cause bedsores, the most common cause is improper wound care. From ineffective first-aid treatment to contaminated equipment, improperly tended wounds turn into infections that will have long-term, and serious, effects.

These kinds of infections can range from mild to life-threatening and can take the form of anything from minor skin irritation to fatal sepsis (a life-threatening blood infection). Regardless of the cause, Caretakers must treat bed sores quickly and effectively at all costs, or else they could prove to be much more serious than mere skin irritation. The main problem with bedsores occurs when the lack of attention to the wound leads to excessive pressure build-up, which ultimately causes a deadly wound.

What Causes Bedsores in Nursing Homes?

Lack of movement and pressure on the skin (typically, over a bony prominence) cause reduced blood flow which, in turn, leads to degenerating, red, and frequently painful skin areas or open ulcers – i.e., bedsores. Pressure sores can be worsened by friction, shearing (when the skin and the bone underneath move in opposite directions), and exposure to feces, urine, and other irritating fluids and substances in contact with the person’s skin. The areas of the body that are most susceptible to bedsores are the backside of the head, hips, sacrum (the triangular bone in the lower back located between the two pelvic hip bones), back, and shoulders, elbows, ankles, and hills. When evaluating cases, a nursing home bed sores attorney Roswell would review the pertinent medical records describing the condition of these areas during the suspected period of neglect.

Risk Factors for Pressure Ulcer Development

The risk of pressure ulcer development is increased for those patients who have any of these conditions:

History of pressure ulcers: If a person had a Stage III or Stage IV pressure ulcer, and that ulcer healed, the area of the closed ulcer is predisposed to a new pressure ulcer (bed sore). Specifically, the process of decubitus ulcer closing occurs through scar tissue formation and the creation of a new epithelial surface [epithelialization]. The “new skin” that forms in the area of the healed ulcer is much more fragile than the healthy “original skin” that used to be in the affected area before the first pressure ulcer ever developed.

Existing pressure ulcer: If a patient has a current pressure ulcer, there is a high risk that: 1) the current ulcer will worsen or 2) this patient will develop new bedsore in another area of the body.

Conditions Affecting Mobility: Lack of mobility (immobility) and the potential for staying in the same position for a prolonged period – represent one of the primary risks associated with developing pressure ulcers. There are multiple conditions affecting mobility which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Neurologic disorders and conditions – e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s Disease
  • Spinal cord injuries (discussed below)
  • Brain injuries
  • Dementia
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Use of Physical Restraints
  • Use of Chemical Restraints
  • Renal disease (chronic kidney disease) and the impaired mobility during extended periods of dialysis treatment

Prolonged immobility in a hospital setting due to: ventilator support, lengthy surgeries, and operating room (OR) stays.

Diabetes (also called “diabetes mellitus”): Diabetes impairs blood circulation (because high glucose levels damage blood vessels) and causes neuropathy (peripheral nerve damage that manifests itself as weakness or numbness). As a result, diabetes increases a patient’s risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD): This disorder affects blood circulation because it causes narrowing and blockage of veins and arteries. Due to the compromised blood flow to lower extremities, patients with peripheral vascular disease are susceptible to developing pressure ulcers involving their feet, especially the heels.

Conditions affecting perfusion: Such conditions as heart failure, dehydration, and sepsis affect blood perfusion of various organs, including patients’ skin. As a result, those individuals who suffer from poor perfusion are at a higher risk of pressure ulcer formation.

Spinal cord injury: Patients with spinal cord injuries typically suffer from impaired mobility and incontinence (bladder and bowel control). In addition, patients with such injuries experience sensory deficits – i.e., decreased or lost sensation and inability to feel touch, cold, or heat. As a result, patients with spinal cord injuries are significantly predisposed to developing pressure ulcers (bed sores).