Bed Sores: The Hidden Nursing Home Killer
When our loved ones are in nursing homes and seem to be resting peacefully, our initial thought may be contentment. Sleeping or resting soundly in a comfortable bed may seem like a hidden endeavor. That’s why a lot of people are surprised to learn that one of the deadliest risks of a nursing home is when patients are left to lie in one position for too long.
Decubitus Ulcers and Immobility
The risk comes from decubitus ulcers, commonly known as bed sores. It is not the sleeping that causes the risk, it is the sleeping without moving that causes bed sores to form. Bed sores form when human skin lies in contact with one surface for an extended period of time, without being moved, as can happen when a patient is lying or sleeping in one position and immobile for a period of time.
For example, when you are typing, your hand or wrist sits on a desk; or if you are in a car and your elbow rests on an armrest for an extended period of time, you’ve probably noticed the slight irritation that happens to your skin in the area that was pressed against the surface. That’s how bed sores form—when a patient is laying in a nursing home bed in the same position for extended periods of time.
The Break Down of Skin
When the patient is never moved, the skin can start to break down. This often happens to the patient’s lower back or tailbone area.
When skin does start to break down, the complications can be exacerbated by infection, which should be expected, as the area gets moist and is generally not ventilated underneath the patient’s body.
Sores are rated in stages based on how deep the sore has gotten. The sores can be superficial and rubbing off the top layer of skin but can gradually wear the skin all the way down to the tissue and bone underneath.
Hard to Detect
What’s worse is that these sores or decubitus ulcers can go unnoticed and untreated for very long periods of time. Often, patients may have limited feeling in parts of their body which makes them unable to even realize that their skin is breaking down. Further, they may have limited ability to communicate any pain that they are experiencing.
Ulcers which are underneath the body, covers, and/or sheets of the bed can go undetected by staff or visiting family for extended periods of time. All too often, ulcers and sores have progress to a stage where they are deadly by the time anybody realizes the patient has a bed sore.
Most reputable nursing homes train staff to move patients who are immobile. There are even some beds that will slowly adjust automatically, which will alter pressure between the body and the bed. This is something you should ask about when shopping for nursing homes for loved ones.
Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law today for help if you or a loved one have been injured in a nursing home.