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IL nursing home abuseNursing home staff are expected to provide the medical care and day-to-day help that residents need to be safe and free from avoidable health concerns. When nursing home staff fail to provide adequate care to residents, the nursing home may be liable for the harm caused to the vulnerable residents. One telltale sign of nursing home neglect is reoccurring bed sores. If your loved one has been suffering from frequent bedsores or bedsores that are not properly treated, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim.

What Are Bed Sores?

Decubitus ulcers, also called bed sores or pressure ulcers, are injuries to the skin caused by long periods of pressure. People who are bedridden, confined to a wheelchair, or cannot move about on their own are the most likely to develop bedsores. These painful wounds often develop on the buttocks, hips, and back but they may also develop in other areas of the body that are subject to prolonged pressure. When a bed sore is developing, the skin becomes discolored, painful, or itchy. If pressure to the developing bed sore is not relieved, it worsens into a blister-like wound. The bedsore may then become deeper and deeper as time goes on, exposing subcutaneous tissues or even muscle and bone. Bed sores are terribly painful and may also lead to complications such as cellulitis, infection of the bones, heart lining, or cerebrospinal fluid, and sepsis. Septic arthritis, abscesses, and heterotopic bone formations may also result from untreated bed sores.

Steps Nursing Home Staff Should Take to Prevent and Address Bed Sores

Nursing home staff should do everything in their power to prevent residents from developing these dangerous and painful injuries. Residents who cannot move themselves should be periodically repositioned so that body parts do not receive prolonged pressure. Residents with incontinence issues should never be left in a soiled diaper or on soiled sheets. If a resident uses a wheelchair, a foam or gel seat cushion can help prevent bed sores to the buttocks and thigh area. Staff should also help wheelchair-bound residents reposition themselves and switch from their wheelchair to the bed periodically. If a bed sore does develop, the resident should be closely monitored for signs of an infection or other complications. If the bedsore worsens, the resident should receive prompt medical attention.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysTragically, news stories involving nursing home abuse and neglect are not uncommon. It seems as if every week, there is another article describing the way nursing home staff mistreat the vulnerable residents in their care. According to one survey, a shocking 44 percent of nursing home residents reported that they had been abused at their facilities and 95 percent said that they had experienced neglect or seen other residents neglected. Even more disturbing, in another survey conducted of nursing home workers, more than 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to neglecting or abusing residents within the prior year.

Staff members who neglect, mistreat, or abuse residents should be held accountable for their actions. If your loved one has suffered at the hands of nursing home staff, one way to hold the negligent party accountable is through a personal injury lawsuit.

Bedsores Must Be Treated Immediately

Decubitus ulcers, or bedsores, are painful wounds caused by unrelenting pressure on the skin. The first sign of a bedsore is often a red or purple discoloration on an area of the body which is exposed to long periods of pressure. If nursing home staff see evidence that a bedsore is developing, they should take immediate action to relieve pressure and watch for signs the wound is worsening. Bedsores that are not treated lead to open wounds which can quickly become extreme painful and dangerously infected. If the infection is not treated soon enough, it can spread to the blood or vital organs and cause death.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysA large number of nursing home residents cannot move around without help. They may be confined to a bed or wheelchair for long periods of time and unable to shift their weight to different parts of their bodies. When a body part experiences persistent pressure, pressure ulcers, also called bed sores, can develop. Nurses, nursing aids, and other nursing home staff members should take special precautions to prevent the development of bed sores in their patients. Unfortunately, some nursing home workers are not as vigilant about bed sores as they should be. When nursing home staff fail to follow procedures for stopping the development bed sores, it is the residents who end up suffering. Frequent bed sores may be a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse.

How Do Bed Sores Develop?

Decubitus ulcers, more commonly known as bed sores, are caused by prolonged periods of pressure on the skin. Bed sores often develop on a resident’s tailbone, hips, buttocks, shoulder blades, spine, backs of arms and legs, ankles, and heels. The first warning signals that bed sore is developing include changes in the resident’s skin color, temperature, texture, swelling, and tenderness. If these warning signs are present and nursing home staff do not reposition the resident to relieve the pressure to the affected areas, the bed sores will worsen. Untreated, bed sores can become deep, open wounds that are extremely painful and prone to infection.

Nursing Home Staff Have a Duty to Prevent and Treat Bed Sores

Patients who cannot advocate for themselves are at an especially high risk for bed sores. Many nursing home residents have cognitive issues such as dementia that leave them unable to effectively communicate. Nursing home staff should pay special attention to these residents and be watchful for signs of bed sores. They should be repositioning the residents at regular intervals, routinely checking for signs that a bed sore is developing, using pressure relieving devices such as special cushions, and ensuring that the resident is getting adequate water and nutrition.

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Illinois nursing home neglect injury attorneysMany nursing home residents have physical and/or mental disabilities which limit their mobility. Residents who are not able to move themselves or who spend long periods of time in a wheelchair or bed are especially prone to getting decubitus ulcers, more commonly called bed sores. These sores are also referred to as “pressure ulcers” because the painful wounds are caused by extensive pressure to one or more body parts.

Nursing home residents who have limited mobility must rely on nursing home staff to help them prevent bed sores. When a resident is frequently developing bed sores, it may be a sign that nursing home staff are not providing the care the resident needs and deserves.

Pressure Ulcers Can Quickly Become a Serious Medical Condition

When a person with normal mobility is lying in their bed or sitting in a chair, they are able to relieve pressure on their body by getting up and moving around or changing positions. Sadly, many nursing home residents do not have this ability. They may not have the physical strength to move themselves or they may suffer from a cognitive condition which prevents them from understanding that they should occasionally reposition themselves. Pressure ulcers are not only extremely painful, they can also develop into a dangerous or even deadly medical condition. Untreated bed sores can quickly become infected and lead to cellulitis, sepsis, or even death.

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Illinois nursing home neglect attorneysDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure ulcers, form when a person spends long periods of time in the same position. Bed sores most often occur in individuals who are immobile due to illness or disability. Nursing home staff should take precautions to prevent bed sores in residents by regularly repositioning them and immediately treating sores if they occur. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as many as one out of ten residents in nursing homes suffer from bed sores at any given time. If your loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it may be a sign of neglect.

Preventing Bed Sores in Elderly and Disabled Individuals

Caretakers should take steps to prevent bed sores before they start. If your loved one cannot move himself or herself, you will have to help regularly reposition them. It may be helpful to position the person at a 30-degree angle to reduce pressure on their hips. Caretakers who look after disabled or elderly individuals should also make sure to inspect their skin for signs that bed sores are forming. Malnutrition can be a cause of bed sores as well. Nursing home residents who do not receive enough calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in their diets may suffer from bed sores in addition to other aliments caused by lack of nutrition.

Areas of the Body on Which Bed Sores Commonly Occur

Bed sores are a major concern for people confined to a wheelchair or bed. For nursing home residents who must use a wheelchair all or most of the day, the most common areas for bed sores to form include the:

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