How Bedsores Can be FatalBedsores
Bedsores are preventable injuries that often develop because of negligent care. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in ten nursing home patients suffers a bedsore injury. This tends to develop from nursing home neglect, especially if the resident did not have bedsores before they were admitted to the facility.Unfortunately, developing these sores is not the worst part an individual can go through.
What Exactly Is a Bedsore?
A bedsore injury, also known as a pressure injury, pressure ulcer, pressure sore, or decubitus ulcer, often develops when an individual is immobile, bedridden, unconscious, or unable to sense pain. Bedsores are ulcers that happen on areas of the skin that experience pressure from lying in bed, wearing a cast for prolonged times, or having to sit in a wheelchair.
Although most people tend to associate these injuries with discomfort and a red mark, they can result in serious problems among older individuals and those that require assistance moving. Consequently, bedsores are often linked to the quality of care they receive. For instance, if an individual is bedridden, they need to be positioned correctly, turned, and given proper skincare and nutrition. Otherwise, bedsores are more likely to develop.
How Do These Bedsores Form?
A bedsore injury often develops when the blood supply to the skin is cut off for more than two to three hours. As the skin dies, the bedsore will begin appearing as a red area that will eventually turn purple, resulting in a significant amount of pain. If the sore is left untreated, not only will the skin break open, but the area can become infected. As this injury worsens, it can become deep enough to extend to muscles and even bones.
Even though pressure injuries can develop anywhere, they tend to form more often on skin that covers bony areas of the body, including:
- Shoulder blades
- Back of the legs and the arms
- Back of the head or the side of the head
- Hip and the lower back
- Ankles, heels, and the skin behind the knees
Depending on the severity of this pressure ulcer, the individual’s physical condition, and the presence of other diseases, these bedsores can take anywhere from days to even years to heal. Some may even require surgery to help the healing process along.
Common Symptoms of a Bedsore
Some of the more common warnings signs that a pressure ulcer is developing include:
- Swelling of the skin
- Pus-like draining
- Unusual changes in the skin’s texture or color
- Skin that feels warmer or cooler to the touch compared to the other areas of the body
- Tender regions of the skin
However, the extent of these symptoms will often depend on the stage bedsore falls into.
Risk Factors that Contribute to a Bedsore Injury
Although any person can develop bedsore, the actual risk of developing these ulcers often depends on numerous elements. Some of the more common risk factors that tend to contribute to these devastating injuries include but are not limited to:
- Immobility: If an individual is immobile and cannot move, whether due to poor health or an injury, their chance of developing a pressure ulcer increases.
- Incontinence: If an individual has bowel and bladder control issues, their skin can become more vulnerable to a bedsore injury, especially when the skin is exposed to urine and stool for long periods.
- Sensory Issues: Individuals who have problems with their sensations and the ability to feel pain or discomfort can often miss the warning signs that they need to change their position.
- Blood Flow Issues: Individuals with health problems that affect blood flow, such as vascular disease or diabetes, have an increased risk of tissue damage and developing a bedsore injury.
- Poor Nutrition: Individuals need to ingest enough calories, protein, minerals, and fluids to maintain healthy skin. If they do not, their chance of developing a pressure ulcer increases.
It is important to note that this list does not indicate every risk that can contribute to bedsore. As a result, if you or a family member developed a pressure ulcer and believe it is due to the wrongful actions of another individual, including a healthcare facility, you should reach out to a bedsore attorney as soon as you can. These lawyers can quickly review your case, figure out if you have a valid legal claim, and help you pursue the damages you are entitled to.
Common Causes of A Bedsore Injury
There are generally three primary contributing causes that lead to a bedsore injury, which include:
- Friction: Friction tends to happen when a person’s skin rubs against their bedding or clothing. However, if a person has fragile skin, this friction can cause it to be more vulnerable to injury, especially if the skin is moist.
- Constant Pressure: If an individual experiences constant pressure on any part of their body, it can lessen the blood flow to the tissues in that area. Yet, since this blood flow is essential for delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the body, without it, the skin and nearby tissue can become damaged and eventually die.
- Shear: A shear occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions. One of the most common examples of this is when an individual is elevated at the head of their bed and slides down. As they slide, their tailbones will likely move down, while the skin over the bone will stay in place. This will essentially cause the two surfaces to move in opposite directions.
The Different Stages of A Bedsore
A bedsore injury is divided into four stages, ranging from least severe to most severe. They include the following:
- Stage One: During this stage, the area impacted looks red and often feels warm to the touch. For those with darker skin, the site may take on a purple or blue tint. Yet, regardless of bedsore’s color, individuals with a stage one bedsore injury will often complain of pain, burning, and itching.
- Stage Two: In the second stage, the injured area becomes more damaged and may develop blisters that ooze pus, open sores, or scrapes. Individuals may complain of significant pain, and the area around the wound may become discolored.
- Stage Three: During the third stage, the blister creates a crater-like appearance due to the damage below the skin’s surface. The area may also show signs of infection, including red edges, pus, odor, drainage, and heat. Plus, the tissue in or around the sore will take on a black appearance, appearing to have died.
- Stage Four: At this point, the area is severely damaged because of bedsore, and a large and deep wound will be present. During this stage, not only have these blisters reached a person’s muscles, bones, tendons, and joints, but infection is also a significant risk.
In addition to these four main stages, there are two other stages that a bedsore injury can fall into, including:
- The unstageable stage, which occurs when you cannot see to the bottom of the pressure ulcer. This prevents you from figuring out how deep the injury is. Only after the doctor cleans out the wound will they be able to stage it.
- The “Suspected Deep Tissue Injury” (SDTI) stage, which occurs when bedsore’s surface looks like it is a stage one or stage two injury, but underneath the surface, it is actually a stage three or four.
Deadly Complications of Bedsores
Fortunately, when bedsores are caught early, they can be treated, and serious consequences can be prevented. However, if prompt treatment is not provided, these bedsores can turn into life-threatening complications.
- Infections: A pressure ulcer can burrow into a person’s bones and joints and lead to joint infections, which can damage cartilage and tissue, or a bone infection, which can reduce a person’s ability to use their limbs and joints.
- Cellulitis: This is an infection of the skin and the connected soft tissues, which results in redness, swelling, and warmth of the affected area. Complications of cellulitis can include tissue death and infections that spread to the lymph nodes, heart, blood, or nervous systems, resulting in death. This infection can also be hazardous for those individuals who suffer nerve damage and cannot feel pain in the area affected by cellulitis, which prevents them from discovering the infection until it may be too late.
- Cancer: Long-term, non-healing wounds such as Marjolin’s ulcers can develop into a type of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Sepsis: Even though this situation is rare, a skin ulcer can still lead to sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to an infection that can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and even death.
- Myonecrosis: This condition, also referred to as gas gangrene, occurs when a specific type of bacteria infiltrates the muscle tissue and leads to a cell’s death within minutes and multi-system organ failure.
- Surgery Complications: If a bedsore injury becomes severe enough, it may require surgery or amputation of the affected limb. However, this major surgery has risks, especially for the elderly or the immunocompromised, and can lead to death from sepsis, even with hospital staff monitoring the patient.
If your loved one died because of complications related to a bedsore injury, reach out to an experienced bedsore attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers, such as those at Hughey Law Firm, can promptly investigate this fatal incident, determine who was at fault for your family member’s death, and help you hold those liable accountable for the consequences they caused.
How Can An Experienced Bedsore Attorney Help You Get the Justice You Deserve?
If your loved one passed away from a bedsore complication, no amount of money will ever truly help you get over the pain of losing them or the anger you have towards the people that caused this tragedy to occur. However, obtaining compensation can help you and your family start rebuilding your life and allow you to cover the extensive bills related to your loved one’s death. Plus, it can also provide you and your family some peace of mind that justice has been obtained.
For these reasons, if you are going through this horrifying ordeal, you need to reach out to an experienced bedsore attorney as soon as possible.
Once these lawyers are on your side, they can:
- Review your case in detail, evaluate your claim, and determine whether you have a viable legal case.
- Answer any questions you have about the incident and legal processes involved.
- Determine the legal options you have and help you figure out which ones to pursue.
- Investigate the incident and gather the evidence necessary to prove what happened and who was at fault for the damages and losses that ensued.
- Obtain expert witnesses, such as doctors, to substantiate your claims.
- Handle negotiations with the other parties and go after a fair settlement amount.
- Take your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to negotiate fairly and fight for maximum compensation.
If you or your loved one suffered bedsore injuries or deadly complications from them because of another person’s wrongful, reckless, or negligent actions, do not wait any longer to secure the legal help you need. Instead, reach out to an experienced bedsore attorney today for a free case evaluation, and find out how these lawyers can help you get the justice and financial recovery you deserve.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.