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When are bedsores a sign of neglect?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Nursing Home Neglect

In Georgia, if your loved one is bedridden or spends prolonged time in a wheelchair, they may have developed bedsores. This common medical issue, also called “pressure ulcers,” is preventable when the individual receives proper care. However, bedsores often indicate neglect, which can have serious implications for nursing home residents’ health and well-being.

Who gets bedsores and why

Elderly individuals with limited mobility, especially those in nursing homes, are vulnerable to bedsores. The sores develop due to prolonged pressure on one area of the skin. Bedsores start as reddened areas and progress to deeper tissue damage and ultimately become open wounds that can go deep into fatty tissue or even deeper into the individual’s muscle and bone.

Elderly patients often have thinner skin, medical issues and other factors that make them susceptible to these wounds, which can become life-threatening. Pressure sores typically develop on areas that bear the person’s body weight for extended periods, such as the lower back, hips, tailbone and heels. Dehydration and malnutrition also contribute to the sores’ development.

Nursing home neglect

In nursing homes, the staff ensures residents receive proper and adequate care. Regular repositioning, daily clothing changes and good nutrition play a role in preventing painful and dangerous bedsores. The Federal Government has determined that nursing home residents should not develop bedsores if they are receiving proper care. If bedsores occur, they can signal nursing home neglect.

The beginning signs of neglect

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be aware that a stage 1 bedsore shows redness, warmth or discoloration, although the skin has not yet broken. This condition signifies neglect, and the facility should immediately take steps to prevent the bedsores from worsening. Not all nursing home residents can communicate if uncomfortable, so the caregivers must remain vigilant.

A stage 2 bedsore has broken skin with a shallow sore, and as the wound becomes deeper, it takes longer to heal, causes more pain and exposes the patient to the risk of sepsis, possible surgery or death.

Awareness of bedsores, their seriousness and how they indicate nursing home neglect can help you advocate for your loved one’s health and safe care.