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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 abuse attorneysAs with hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities which treat a large number of patients per day, one of the biggest concerns for nursing home residents is the risk of infection. Many nursing home residents already have weakened immune systems due to other health issues, so a bacterial infection can quickly become an immediate medical emergency. Frequently occurring infections or infections which are not property treated can be a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Frequent Infections Could Be a Sign Your Loved One is Not Receiving Proper Care

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, the most frequent type of infection occurring in nursing homes is skin infection. Pressure ulcers or bedsores are a major issue for many nursing home residents. When an able-bodied person lays in a bed or sits in a chair, they are able to frequently shift their weight and avoid putting extensive pressure on certain body parts. However, a person with limited mobility cannot make such adjustments. Nursing home staff have an obligation to help residents avoid bedsores by frequently repositioning them. When bedsores are not treated, several life-threatening conditions can occur including cellulitis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, and even sepsis. 

Untreated Urinary Tract Infections Can Be Extremely Dangerous for Sick and Elderly

Another common cause of infection in nursing homes is the use of urinary catheters. Nursing home residents frequently have medical conditions which make it nearly impossible for them to use the bathroom. In some situations, a catheter is required to help a resident relieve themselves. Unfortunately, the use of urinary catheters greatly increases the risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract and causing a bladder or kidney infection.

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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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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure ulcers, pressure sores, or pressure wounds are a painful, sometimes life-threatening medical condition which is sadly common in elderly or disabled individuals. Many residents living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities struggle with bed sores due to mobility problems. In fact, studies show that one in five nursing home residents have experienced pressure ulcer symptoms at some point in their stay.

Bed Sores Are Caused by Long Periods of Inertness

Pressure ulcers can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect because they are often caused by residents being left alone for long periods of time. Pressure ulcers are injuries caused by persistent pressure or friction on a person’s body. When a non-disabled person lays in bed, he or she is able to move around and find a comfortable position. When a person is immobilized by physical or cognitive disability, they cannot relieve pressure that builds up on certain body parts. Pressure ulcers commonly form on a person’s buttocks, back, backs of arms and legs, head, elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. Pressure ulcers do not form spontaneously but instead grow in severity over time. In addition to being tremendously painful, untreated pressure ulcers can lead to infection, sepsis, cellulitis, and even death.

Understaffing Can Cause Some Residents to Be Neglected

It is no secret that many long-term care facilities and nursing homes are distressingly understaffed. These institutions simply do not have the resources necessary to care for residents in the way they deserve to be cared for. Furthermore, nursing home staff are often under-educated regarding healthcare practices and lack proper training on how to prevent and treat bed sores. Immobile residents in a nursing home should be frequently monitored and repositioned in order to prevent pressure ulcers from forming.

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