Pressure ulcers, which are more commonly referred to as bedsores, usually develop when too much pressure is put on one part of the body for a prolonged period, and they are a common sign of neglect in South Carolina nursing homes and extended care facilities. Elderly people are more prone to bedsores because they tend to be less active and spend more time in bed. They also have thinner skin than young people and often suffer from medical conditions that make them more vulnerable. Bedsores are seen as a possible sign of abuse because they can usually be prevented with adequate care and are more likely to develop when elderly nursing home residents are malnourished or dehydrated.
Bedsores take time to develop
Bedsores develop over time and are rarely serious if they are diagnosed and treated in their early stages. A diagnostic system created by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel separates bedsores into the following four categories:
- Stage one bedsores cause discoloration, but they do not break the skin. They feel warm when touched and do not change color when pressed.
- Stage two bedsores can be identified by broken skin and a small ulcer.
- When a bedsore reaches stage three, it has reached the fat deposits below the skin’s dermis layer.
- By the time a bedsore has reached stage four, it has penetrated muscle tissue and may even reach a bone.
Nursing homes and extended care facilities can protect their residents against bedsores by making sure that they have enough food and water and are given clean clothes to wear every day. Staff should also reposition elderly residents every few hours and check areas where bedsores often develop like elbows, shoulder blades and heels. Failing to take steps like these could be used as evidence in lawsuits alleging nursing home neglect.
Families who wish to take legal action after an elderly relative develops bedsores in a nursing home may gather evidence by asking a specialist to examine the victim. This examination could reveal how long the bedsores were left untreated, and it may also uncover other evidence of mistreatment. A specialist could also run blood tests to find out if the victim was dehydrated or suffering from malnutrition when the bedsores developed.