Pressure sores also referred to as bedsores or pressure ulcers. These sores or skin wounds are preventable skin breakdown that look like sores on the skin. Pressure sores are skin and tissue injuries that are caused by prolonged pressure to the skin. Typically pressure ulcers are found on the “bony” parts of your body including ankles, heels, hips and buttocks. Most often times pressure ulcers occur in an elderly patient who is fully bed ridden or who is left in a wheelchair for long periods of time. An elderly patient develops thinner, less elastic skin as they age and thus they are more susceptible to developing pressure sores. If left untreated, pressure sores can compromise your health and even lead to death.
Different Stages of Pressure Ulcers/Bed Sores
Pressure sores are characterized by stages. They are broken down into four different stages with Stage 4 pressures sores being those most severe.
Stage I ulcers are not actually open wounds. The skin can be very sensitive with a reddish appearance and could possibly feel softer or firmer than the skin around it. When you press the ulcer it will not blanch or lose color when your finger is removed. Stage I pressure sores are often treated by incorporating pressure reduction products such as special cushions, mattress pads, and heel protectors. A person confined to a bed or wheelchair should change position frequently, every two hours if bed confined.
Stage II is when an ulcer forms and the skin has the appearance of a blister, scrape, or shallow crater which is tender or painful. The skin tissue around the Stage II wound may be red or purple. At Stage II ulcerated skin may die or not be repairable. Treatment for a Stage II pressure sore incorporates Stage I pressure relieving techniques and products. Additionally, debridement, the removal of dead tissues from the wound, is added to treatment.
Stage III pressure sores are worsening ulcers that may show fat cells without visibility of muscle, tendon, or bone in the wound. They have the appearance of a small crater. The damage to the inner skin tissue will be visible. A stage III bedsore requires quick intervention from a trained wound care team in order to try to heal the stage 3 decubitus wound and prevent it from deteriorating into a Stage iv pressure sore.
Stage IV pressure ulcers are deep sores extended into the muscle and bone with extensive damage to deeper tissues. The stage 4 bed sore burrows so deep into the skin that it damages the muscle, bone, tendons, and/or joints. A Stage IV pressure ulcer often creates a visible hole down to the patient's bone. Stage IV pressure wounds are very dangerous and require extensive wound care, which may include surgical intervention. Stage IV pressure ulcers may result in serious life threatening conditions like bone infections, sepsis or possible limb amputation. Stage IV pressure ulcers could result in death. It is very difficult to heal a stage IV pressure ulcer.
Ways to Prevent Pressure Ulcers/Bed
When the body doesn’t get any movement, it can hinder adequate blood flow to the skin, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. If you are currently on bed rest, there are several things you can do to prevent bed sores.
Change positions frequently - When you change positions often, there will be less pressure on your skin, reducing your risk of developing pressure ulcers. It is a good idea to reposition your body at least every couple of hours.
Keep skin clean and dry - The cleaner and drier your skin is, the less likely it will develop bed sores. Dip a wash rag in a bucket of warm water and mild soap and clean your skin with it. Pat your skin dry with a towel. If you rub too hard, it may lead to skin irritation.
Use pillows - Another effective way to prevent bed sores is to put pillows between parts of your body that press against each other.
Exercise - When you can’t even get out of bed, the idea of exercise seems daunting. However, performing a few range of motion exercises in bed can help reduce the risk of bed sores.
Patients In Nursing Homes/Hospitals Are Most Likely To Develop Pressure Ulcers:
• Patients who are wheelchair bound or permanently in bed
• Immobilized patients who cannot move on their own
• Patients who are malnourished
• Patients who are dehydrated
• Patients who have dementia, stroke, alzheimer's disease or altered mental status
• Patients who cannot turn and reposition on their own
• Patients with diabetes
Hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are very aware of who is at risk of developing pressure ulcers and bed sores. These facilities have procedures and protocols in place to prevent pressure sores in susceptible patients or to treat a patient who may have developed pressure sores. If your loved one has developed a pressure sore while in a nursing home or in a hospital or in an assisted living facility setting, do not let the abuse and neglect go unreported. Make sure to alert the head of the nursing staff, the facility administrator, the on-staff doctor and a wound care consultant. After doing that, contact a qualified New York Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for a free consultation on your potential bed sore case. To schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, please call our office at (929) 400-7608 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.