Did your loved one develop preventable bedsores while admitted to a nursing home or Assisted Living Facility? If so, we can help.
The Bed Sore Lawyers at Davis & Brusca represent nursing home residents and other patients who have suffered these devastating injuries caused by medical negligence. Call us today at (609) 786-2540 or use the contact form today for a free, no obligation consultation.
What is the Proper Treatment for a Bedsore?
People who have suffered pressure injuries (a/k/a “bedsores”, “pressure ulcers” or “decubitus ulcers”) must receive proper treatment in order to recover. The specific treatment protocol may vary from person to person, and deciding the correct course will usually require assessment from a provider with specific training in wound care. However, there are some general principles which apply to most wound scenarios:
Offloading of pressure: A wound cannot heal if it is constantly subjected to pressure. The area of the wound must generally be offloaded to preserve blood flow and allow the damaged tissues to heal.
Keep the wound clean & dry: Exposure to moisture and contaminants will generally impair or inhibit wound healing. Wound dressings must be kept sanitary and changed regularly.
Careful Monitoring of Wound Healing: There is generally no “one size fits all” approach to caring for a pressure injury. The wound must be carefully and regularly monitored, with changes (or lack of change) being accurately documented by the care staff. Regular assessment of the wound and the care which has been provided will allow the nursing staff to determine whether the approach they have been taking is working, and to adjust the care plan if it isn’t.
Caring for pressure injuries usually requires a dedicated, well-educated team. The approach should be multi-disciplinary with all the caregivers working together to provide optimal care. Proper wound management requires a comprehensive care plan that takes every factor into account, including the response (or lack of response) to prior efforts. Failure to follow this comprehensive approach will usually have a dramatic negative effect on the patient’s outcome.
Treating Bed Sores
Bedsores are generally caused when the skin is exposed to prolonged pressure, traction, or shearing forces which pinch and pull the skin and subcutaneous tissues on and against bony prominences, such as the sacrum, hips, heels, shoulder blades, elbows, and even the back of the head.
It is critical to monitor the skin of a person who is at risk for pressure injuries. Identifying wounds early can make all the difference. When a pressure injury (bed sore) is left untreated or is poorly managed, a small or minor bedsore may progress rapidly. These wounds can become severe and may become life-threatening over a relatively short time so, it is critical that the care providers know how to spot the signs of wounds and take care to monitor the skin, document wounds as soon as they begin, and immediately develop and implement a complete care plan to address any wounds which may form.
Preventing Bed Sores
While each case is unique, there are some universally accepted preventions methods for bed sores:
Keep the Skin Clean & Dry: Prolonged exposure to moisture can weaken the skin’s natural barriers. This can come from excess wetness due to sweating or from urine or other fluids. Use of moisture barrier creams can help to protect the skin and prevent wounds.
Turn & Position Frequently: The skin must be regularly offloaded in order to remain healthy. People who have the ability to move themselves do this without thinking about it. However, those with medical conditions or physical weakness need help from care staff to accomplish this vitally important step. The frequency of offloading may vary from person to person, but generally this must occur at least once every 2 hours when in bed and at least once every hour when in a chair or wheelchair to prevent wounds from forming. If a person has a wound, more frequent turning is likely required. Frequent repositioning helps to prevent bed sores by preventing ischemia (lack of blood flow) to underlying skin and tissue.
Managing Underlying Health Issues: There are numerous health issues and related factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing pressure ulcers. These must be properly managed as part of an overall care plan to prevent wounds. Some examples of such issues include:
Dehydration and malnutrition – managing diet is very important. Dehydration can impact the resilience of the skin, as can protein malnutrition.
Peripheral Vascular Disease – Poor blood flow into the lower extremities increases the risk for wounds in the heels and feet. Care must be taken with residents who have PVD to offload their heels (usually done w/booties to “float” the heels) and to keep sustained pressures off of the feet.
Diabetes – Diabetes is another risk factor which must be carefully managed to avoid pressure injuries in the heels and feet. The existence of diabetes does not make wounds “inevitable” or “unavoidable”. It is a risk factor which must be properly managed to keep residents safe and wound-free.
Managing Body Position – Care must be taken when caring for residents who are bed-bound or weak, to ensure they are not subjected to shearing forces and friction when they are moved in bed, and to ensure they are in a proper position for feeding to keep damaging forces from being applied to the skin. Dragging the body against the bedding can cause significant damage and increase the potential for bedsore formation.
When Should you Speak to a Bed Sore Lawyer?
Nearly all bedsores are preventable. As such, when bedsores form there is reason to suspect neglect or abuse is the cause.
If your loved one is receiving wound care in a nursing home, call Davis & Brusca and speak with one of our caring, experienced bed sore lawyers now. We can offer guidance and help you stop the neglect and seek justice for your family.