A recent report showed that nearly half of all California nursing homes failed to meet federal standards in the prevention of bedsores (also called "pressure ulcers" or "decubitus ulcers"). So serious is the problem, that Medicare soon will no longer pay for the care of a bedsore if it is acquired after admission to a nursing facility.
The initial development of a bed sore can occur in only a few hours if the blood supply to the skin is restricted or cut off. Initially, the skin begins to die and becomes reddened and painful, and eventually turns a purplish color. Without treatment, a small bed sore can quickly expand, exposing the individual to severe pain and infection.
Residents of nursing facilities and hospitals are at high risk for developing bedsores, and typically sores develop in bony areas of the body under pressure from lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair for an extended period of time. The degree and severity of a bed sore is classified by stages, usually graded by the degree of tissue damage.
Stage I: A reddened area on the skin that, when pressed, can not be blanched (does not turn white). This indicates that a pressure ulcer is starting to develop. If the reddened skin does not return to normal color 30 minutes after relieving the pressure, then the sore is likely a Stage I.
Stage II: The skin breaks down and blisters begin to form, but the damage is limited to the dermis. It can also look like a scrape or a crater in the skin.
Stage III: Now the full thickness of the skin breaks down, and the ulcer may extend into subcutaneous tissue, but not yet to the muscle. Nonviable tissue may be present, which is frequently black in color. The nonviable or dead tissue, called eschar, must be removed before healing can occur.
Stage IV: The bedsore has become so deep it causes damage to the muscle and bone, and sometimes tendons and joints.
Bed sores, particularly Stage III and IV, should never occur inside a nursing a facility, and are frequently the result of neglect, including malnutrition, dehydration, or a simple failure to examine the resident. Any development of a bed sore inside a nursing home or residential care facility should be thoroughly investigated.
Walton Law Firm has successfully prosecuted physicians, nursing homes, and residential care facilities in civil courts for the failure to prevent or treat bed sores. If you have questions about bed sores or pressure ulcers, please submit your confidential question online, or call Walton Law Firm for a free and private consultation. We can be reached toll free at (866) 607-1325 or locally at (760) 571-5500.