Unfortunately, preventable pressure sores occur too often in nursing homes. A pressure sore, also known as a bedsore, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer, is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue that usually occurs over a bony area due to constant pressure or pressure in combination with friction. Pressure sores often form in the elderly or disabled when restricted movement puts constant pressure on certain areas of the body such as the buttocks, hips, back of thighs, back or sides of the head or the heels. This leads to restricted blood circulation causing the tissue to die and pressure sores to form.
Nursing home residents often suffer from mobility, sensory, activity and /or nutritional impairments leaving them more susceptible to pressure sores. If existing impairments are not addressed with preventative measures such as regular skin inspections, the use of cushions to offload pressure or regular turning and repositioning, pressure sores can develop.
Ask the nursing home what plan has been put into place to prevent pressure ulcers. Make sure it’s being followed by asking questions and regularly checking your loved one for any signs of early skin breakdown which can include: unusual changes in skin color or texture, swelling, pus-like draining, tender areas and/ or an area of the skin that feels cooler or warmer to the touch than other areas.
If you have been told that your loved one has a pressure sore, verify it is being properly treated to prevent the sore from becoming larger and deeper. Immediate treatment is necessary because pressure sores, while painful and debilitating, also create susceptibility to infection and can undermine rehabilitative therapies.
After verifying that proper treatment is being provided, ask the nursing home or other medical providers to photograph the sores and place the photographs in your loved one’s medical record. If photographs aren’t being taken by the nursing home or other medical providers, make sure you begin taking photographs on a regular basis until the pressure sores heal.
Failure to prevent the development of pressure sores can constitute negligence and a violation of New York State regulations. If your loved one develops a serious pressure sore, please contact a personal injury attorney at Lacy Katzen LLP for a free consultation.