Bedsores are one of the most common injuries suffered by nursing home residents. The less mobile an elderly person is, the more likely they are to experience this painful form of injury when neglected by nursing home staff. Nursing home staff members are supposed to make sure bed sores never happen. In fact, the existence of a bedsore could be a sign that a facility isn’t taking good care of a resident. The more you know about bedsores and how to identify them, the better equipped you’ll be to notice when your loved one is being given negligent care in their nursing home.
How to Identify the Severity of a Bedsore
Bedsores are ulcers that result from sustained pressure on the skin. They predictably progress from mild discolorations to serious injuries that penetrate skin tissue all the way to the bone when left untreated. This progression happens in four stages.
Stage One Bedsores
What it looks like: As a bedsore forms, the affected skin takes on a red hue. The area might also be more sensitive to touch. At this point, there are no wounds or openings in the skin.
What to do: First you need to determine if the red spot is a bedsore or simply irritation. One way to test the presence of a stage one bedsore is to press firmly on the sore and see if the skin turns pale once you release pressure. If it doesn’t, then it’s likely a stage one bedsore.
Stage Two Bedsores
What it looks like: As the ulcer progresses to stage two, it becomes painful, especially when touched. Typically, a wound starts to form during stage two of bedsore. It might look like a blister and appear redder and more swollen than it did in stage one.
What to do: Medical intervention is important in stage two, as it can prevent the ulcer from penetrating the body more deeply and decrease the likelihood that bedsore becomes infected.
Stage Three Bedsores
What it looks like: During stage three of bedsore, the affected area now will have an open wound that resembles a cavity or crater. Stage three bedsores often have a strong or foul odor. The surrounding area will appear very red. It’s likely the wound will ooze pus.
What to do: Stage three bedsores require immediate medical treatment. Antibiotics and mild surgical interventions might be necessary.
Stage Four Bed Sores
What it looks like: Stage four bedsores are incredibly painful. Areas that were red in the prior three stages might begin to take on black color. The wound enlarges and deepens. In some cases, bedsore extends into muscle, soft tissue, and—in the worst of cases—bones and cartilage.
What to do: Stage four bedsores are medical emergencies. The risk of infection is high, and surgical interventions are often necessary. These injuries can take several months or even years to heal.
Learning More About the Dangers of Bed Sores
At Sawyer Law Firm, we’re all too familiar with these injuries. We’ve worked with several clients with loved ones who suffered very serious bed sores at the hands of negligent nursing homes.
Read our short guide on understanding bed sores to learn more about who is most susceptible to bedsores and steps to avoid these potentially fatal and preventable injuries.
If Your Loved One Has Bed Sores, Act Now
If your loved one has a bedsore, it’s important to act immediately before it progresses: infections are serious business. If your loved one is in a nursing home, alert the staff about bedsores. You might also need to consider legal action if you believe your loved one isn’t being given the care they need because negligence tends to only get worse over time when left unconfronted.