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Bed Sores from Nursing Home Negligence

Bed sores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are lesions caused when pressure causes circulation to be cut off for extended period of times to vulnerable parts of skin or tissue. Without adequate blood flow to the skin or tissue, the tissue dies, creating in some instances a deep, crater-like wound. Bed sores most commonly occur to the elderly, who are confined to a bed or a chair and to those that are in a coma or unconscious and are bedridden, often in a hospital or nursing home. The sores occur when patients or nursing home residents are left lying on their back or one side of their body for too long without being turned or rotated. Sometimes, special air mattresses that adjust to different pressure points along the body to prevent sores from forming. However, once a bed sore develops, they can quickly turn serious if not treated immediately.

Bed sores are classified by stages, with Stage IV being the most severe, usually occurring after has been ignored.  

Stage I. A pressure sore begins as a persistent area of red skin that may itch or hurt and feel warm and spongy or firm to the touch. Stage I sores are superficial and go away shortly after the pressure is relieved and proper medical care is administered.  

Stage II. At this stage, some skin loss has already occurred. The wound is now an open sore that looks like a blister or an abrasion, and the surrounding tissues may show red or purple discoloration.  

Stage III. By the time a bed sore reaches this stage, the damage has extended to the tissue below the skin, creating a deep, crater-like wound.  

Stage IV. This is the most serious and advanced stage. A large-scale loss of skin occurs, along with damage to underlying muscle, bone, and even supporting structures such as tendons and joints. If not treated immediately, serious infection will occur.  

Bed sores most commonly occur in the tailbone or buttocks, shoulder blades, along the spine or back of the arms and legs, especially where they rest against a bed or chair. They can also occur to the back of the head, the back or sides of the knees, heels or ankles, especially if confined to bed. Once a patient or resident is determined to be at risk for bed sores, appropriate measures must be undertaken to prevent bed sores from forming. Unfortunately, the most common cause for bed sores is neglect. Patients or residents who are not turned frequently, left in chairs for too long or not changed promptly after they soil themselves are at the greatest risk to develop sores.