You may have a family member in a nursing home who is at risk for bedsores, also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. Bedsores are tears in the skin, or irritation thereof, due to prolonged immobility in a wheelchair and/or hospital bed.
Certain conditions can increase your loved one’s risk for bedsores. These include circulation problems, malnutrition and diabetes. Prevention of bedsores involves frequent repositioning to relieve the pressure on vulnerable areas of the body. If your loved one has bedsores, they may indicate that your loved one has not received repositioning at reasonable intervals. This could be a sign of nursing home neglect, although bedsores alone are not a definitive indication.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, tearing of the skin due to bedsores makes the body more susceptible to infection. Such an infection could spread throughout the body, potentially causing systemic symptoms of generalized weakness, chills and fever, fast heartbeat or mental confusion. It can also take a very long time for an infected bedsore to heal.
Bedsore treatment involves relieving pressure on the area and protecting the skin from infection and further damage while promoting healing. In addition to conservative measures, there are two surgical procedures used to treat bedsores. Skin grafts involve transplanting healthy skin onto the wound, and debridement involves removing any dead or damaged tissue. Like all surgical procedures, these treatments involve potential risks to the patient.
The stage of a bedsore is a measure of its severity. Stage 4 is the most severe and involves a large wound, possibly involving bones, joints and soft tissues. A stage 1 bedsore is the least severe as it involves irritation and redness of the skin but no ulceration as yet. Prompt intervention may prevent a stage 1 bedsore from becoming more serious.