Pressure Sore Injuries

One of the most common injuries experienced by nursing home patients are pressure (decubitus) ulcers, more typically known as bedsores. They are also among the most preventable. Physically disabled or inert patients lying in bed for prolonged periods can develop these injuries in areas on their body where their own weight pressing against a mattress or other surface creates a flesh wound. If not properly treated, these initially harmless-seeming sores can become infected and even fatal. If your loved one has suffered from a preventable pressure sore in a New Jersey nursing home, a Bergen County nursing home abuse lawyer can hold the facility accountable for its negligence.

Most people probably don’t realize that something as seemingly minor as a bedsore can kill a person. If left to fester, a bedsore can rapidly escalate to a painful open wound which allows bacteria to enter the blood stream and infect vital organs, a process known as sepsis. These complications can ultimately kill the patient.

Common Sites Where Bedsores Develop

A bedsore can develop fairly quickly when an immobile patient, either in a bed or chair, cannot reposition their body to relieve pressure on specific areas, which cuts off blood flow and oxygen to the skin. This first causes the skin to redden and become warm, then leads to the breakage and death of the tissue.

Bedsores commonly develop on areas of the body that are thin-skinned or bony and in prolonged contact with a surface, which include:

  • Buttocks
  • Tailbone/lower back
  • Hip bones
  • Heel
  • Ankles
  • Back of the head
  • Elbows
  • Shoulder blades
  • Knees
Stages of Pressure Sore Injuries

Bedsores usually progress through four different stages by the time they become life-threatening.

Stage 1: The skin becomes irritated and reddens but remains unbroken

Stage 2: The skin grows even darker and more painful, the top layers of skin tissue die and the skin starts to break and may produce pus.

Stage 3: The break opens wider, creating a crater and/or eschar (hanging skin) at the sore site. Blood and other fluids seeping from the sore will usually stain the patient’s bedding.

Stage 4: The patient now has an open wound with the bone sometimes visible, and is at risk for infection and sepsis.

When left untreated, a stage 1 or 2 bedsore can rapidly advance to stages 3 and 4, causing dangerous health risks.

Nursing Home Bedsores Can Be Prevented With Proper Staff Training

When a patient develops a bed sore, it is usually because nursing home staff were not regularly shifting the patient’s physical position. Pressure sores are preventable with proper professional training, but in facilities where nursing staff are overworked because of a high patient-nurse ratio, they frequently occur as a result of neglect.

Preventing bedsores requires the staff to follow simple protocols which involve keeping the patient’s skin clean and dry, ensuring they eat properly, and adjusting their body position several times a day. If the staff is doing its job, a pressure sore should not even develop. But if it does, prompt cleaning, bandaging, and treatment of the wound is essential. Once a sore develops to stage 3 or 4, the intervention of a physician is often necessary, with treatments including antibiotics and even surgical debridement (removal of dead or unhealthy tissue from the site).

Because these injuries are so easy to prevent, the nursing staff, doctors, and facility itself can all be held accountable for negligence if the patient develops a serious or life-threatening pressure sore.

Contact a New Jersey Nursing Home Injury Lawyer

The Bergen County nursing home injury lawyers at Aretsky Law Group P.L.C. have vast experience handling litigation involving pressure sore injuries, and we can help you pursue a claim if your loved one has suffered from a dangerous bedsore at a New Jersey long-term care facility. Please contact us today so we can get your family the compensation you deserve.

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