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Bedsores and their health risks to nursing home residents

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse

Bedsores develop when a person remains in one position for a very long time, putting pressure on certain areas of the skin until those spots turn into a wound. While bedsores are easily avoidable, they remain a serious issue for many nursing home patients. Without immediate medical attention, bedsores in older adults can pose a serious health risk.

Causes of bedsores in nursing homes

Serious injuries or health conditions may confine older adults to one position. Over time, the prolonged pressure on the skin can result in bedsores. Things like bedding and clothes that rub against the body can worsen the problem, especially for people with sensitive skin.

Moisture and shear, which occur when a person is repositioned or moved without the proper technique, can increase the risk of bedsores.

To prevent the onset of this skin injury, older adults with mobility issues might rely on nursing homes to provide them with around-the-clock care. However, bedsore injuries in nursing homes remain high even with the presence of trained staff.

Failing to reposition or provide adequate food and water to residents can result in malnutrition and increase the risk of bedsores. Unfortunately, shortcomings in nursing homes, such as inadequate staffing, training and funding, can contribute to the abuse and neglect of residents.

The serious health risks of elderly bedsores

Bedsores can develop after just one week of not moving. The skin may begin to change color, swell or become tender. Parts of the body that barely have fat or muscle, such as the tailbone, back of the head or shoulder blades, are particularly susceptible to bedsores.

Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent complications. Mild bedsores can be treated by repositioning the patient, keeping the wound clean and supplying medication. Bedsores, if left alone, can worsen and result in serious and life-threatening injury to the resident, including:

  • Sepsis
  • Gangrene
  • Blood poisoning
  • Amputation

Alarmingly, over 60,000 people die from bedsore complications every year. As such, nursing homes that fail to provide care to their residents should be held liable if their negligence leads to injury or death.

However, residents may not realize they have such a serious problem on their own. Vigilant family members and visitors can be crucial in spotting signs of neglect and taking necessary action.