Bedsores (otherwise called pressure sores or ulcers, or decubitus ulcers) are open wounds that become necrotic and turn into medical emergencies over time. The sores form and often become worse due to a lack of preventative measures or attention. As the sores worsen, they become infected and eat away at the skin and muscle down to the bone. For patients who are already medically compromised, these can create a host of other problems.
Bedsores are the result of prolonged pressure on a particular point of a patient’s skin. This is most common in areas where the bone protrudes nearest to the surface, such as the hips, heels, or shoulders. However, bedsores can appear anywhere there is pressure for an extended period of time, such as the head or spine. What is perhaps most alarming about bedsores is what action causes them—or rather, inaction.
As mentioned above, bedsores are simply caused by prolonged pressure. For bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients, this simply means they have been in the same position for far too long. However, in order for pressure sores or ulcers to form, patients have to be lying down in the same position for anywhere from a week to several months.
If your loved one has developed bedsores while in the care of a nursing home, it is an indication of inadequate medical attention at best, and outright neglect and abuse at worst.
Nursing home residents should be moved and repositioned frequently if they are unable to move on their own—every few hours for those who are most at risk. Bedsores only worsen when there is a clear lack of care or attention.
Early stages of bedsores look like hardened patches of discolored skin, often like a rash or a bruise. They may be warm to the touch, but will not turn white when you press on them. If this is the case, simple preventative measures, special foam pillows, and periodic repositioning will relieve pain and damage. However, deep ulcers can form without breaking the skin—if the “bruising” is mushy and purple, that might indicate a far more serious wound. Insist on getting medical attention for your loved one immediately.
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