What Are Pressure Ulcers and Why Do They Matter?
Gregg Hollander | September 7, 2022 | Personal Injury
A pressure ulcer, also known as a decubitus ulcer or bedsore, is an injury to the skin and tissue beneath it. These injuries are common in areas of the body like the hips, ankles, and upper part of the buttocks near the tailbone. Some pressure ulcers can resolve without medical care, while others can lead to more severe injuries.
As many as 2.5 million people are hospitalized yearly in the United States due to pressure ulcers.
Simple preventive measures can reduce the likelihood that you or a loved one will develop pressure ulcers. Regular monitoring can alert you and your dedicated healthcare professionals about the presence of these wounds, and once they are detected, prompt attention can prevent them from worsening.
Ways That Decubitus Ulcers Develop
Decubitus ulcers tend to develop in three main ways. These include:
Pressure caused by laying or sitting on the same part of your body for a prolonged period can lead to the development of bedsores. Such pressure can restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the area, leading to the death of the skin and connective tissues.
Friction occurs when the skin repeatedly rubs against another surface, like fabrics or bedding. This frequently happens when a bedbound person attempts to change position. The rubbing motion can eventually break the skin, especially if it’s moist or hasn’t been cleaned recently.
Shearing movement is similar to friction, but its effects take place below the skin. In this instance, the skin catches against another object or surface, and further movement causes it to pull away from underlying tissues, resulting in blistering or breakage of the skin.
Progression of Bedsores
When a bedsore first develops, the skin of the impacted area will be red and warm to the touch. Darker skin may appear bluish or purplish. The sufferer may complain of pain, burning, or itching in the affected area.
As the ulcer progresses, the wound may take on the appearance of a blister or open sore. The skin around the ulcer may also become discolored.
If left untreated, the ulcer will continue to worsen and may begin to resemble a crater-type wound as it spreads beneath the outer layers of the skin. As the damage goes deeper, it can impact muscle tissue, joints, or even bones.
Infection may set in at any of these stages. The risk for infection increases in direct correlation to the severity of the wound. An infected ulcer may be filled with pus or emit a foul-smelling discharge. It may also be accompanied by a fever.
Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers
Proper positioning and regular but careful readjustment can help prevent the development of bedsores. A good skincare routine, including regular cleaning, drying, and moisturizing, can also keep pressure ulcers from forming.
Once a bedsore forms, any pressure or friction to the area should be eliminated to avoid further irritation. Clean and dress the wound, and change bandages frequently. If infection sets in, it may be necessary to use medicated creams and antibiotics to treat it.
Speak With a Medical Malpractice or Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer If You or a Loved One Has Developed Severe Pressure Ulcers
If you notice that you or a loved one has developed bedsores while under the care of a hospital or nursing home, insist that your caregivers take immediate action. Decubitus ulcers can easily develop or worsen if the skin is not looked after properly.
In cases where bedsore wounds are extensive, an attorney may need to look into the matter and determine whether you’re eligible to receive compensation for the injuries. If so, you may be able to file a medical malpractice or nursing home abuse case to seek damages.
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