Pressure ulcers, otherwise known as bedsores, are amongst the most common injuries suffered by nursing home residents. Pressure ulcers occur when there is prolonged pressure on the skin. The continuous pressure exerted on the skin causes the skin to break down. For bedbound residents, common sites for pressure ulcers to develop include the shoulder blades, hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, ankles and skin behind the knees.  Pressure ulcers can develop into a full-fledged infection without proper medical care. In a worst-case scenario, the resident can become septic from an infected pressure ulcer, resulting in the resident’s death.

Nursing facilities need to assess the risk that a resident may develop a pressure ulcer. Residents who are immobile, incontinent, or have medical conditions which effect blood flow are amongst those with an increased risk for developing pressure ulcers.  If a resident is determined to be at risk for developing pressure ulcers, the facility’s staff should implement a care plan.  At a minimum, the nursing home staff needs to change the resident’s position at frequent intervals to prevent prolonged periods of pressure on any one area. Nursing facilities should be taking active steps in preventing at-risk residents from developing ulcers, such as monitoring the resident’s skin condition, keeping skin and bedsheets dry, positioning the resident to keep pressure off of bony areas of the body, and providing an appropriate mattresses.  If an ulcer forms, the nursing facility should take necessary steps to prevent or control infection. 

If a resident develops a pressure ulcer, the facility must provide treatment and the resident’s physician must be consulted. The physician will provide a care plan that nursing staff must follow. This care should be documented in the resident’s chart by the facility’s nursing staff. The care plan for pressure ulcers often involves frequent cleaning of the wound and frequent bandage changes. Debridement and antibiotics are both commonly utilized to prevent or control infection. If the proper care is given, pressure ulcers can heal in a matter of weeks. However, a pressure ulcer that is not adequately treated may worsen, becoming more difficult and more expensive to treat.

The attorneys at Dworken and Bernstein can help determine if your loved one suffered pressure ulcers as the result of a nursing home’s negligent acts.

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