Bed sores can be easy to prevent, but if the condition reaches stage four, they can be a serious threat to the victim’s health. When someone develops a stage 4 bed sore in a nursing facility, it can indicate the nursing staff’s negligence. You can take legal action against the nursing facility if you or a loved one suffers from stage four bedsores.
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What are Bed Sores?
Bed sores or ulcers (decubitus or pressure ulcers) are formed on the skin’s surface as a result of prolonged pressure on the spot. When excessive pressure or body weight is applied to soft tissues on the boney areas, including hips, ankles, tailbone, shoulder blades, spine, the back of the legs or arms, the skin behind the knees, and heels, it causes the area to become inflamed or tender.
If left untreated, this tender area can become a wound, damaging surrounding ligaments and muscles and eventually exposing the fatty layer. The symptoms of bed sores range from slight redness or discoloration of the areas to excessive swelling, pus discharge, and extreme pain. Mild bed sores can heal in a couple of days, but if the condition persists, they can develop into large open wounds prone to severe infections.
Causes and Risk Factors of Bed Sores
A bed sore occurs due to insufficient blood flow to the soft tissue. The limited movement of the body makes the skin more susceptible to bed sores, as poor blood flow prevents the essential nutrients from getting delivered to nearby tissues. While prolonged pressure is the major cause of bed sores, other causes can be excessive friction when the skin rubs against an external surface.
The risk factors of bed sores include immobility due to disease, poor health or injury, lack of sensation, poor nutrition, dehydration, medical conditions that prevent blood flow, and incontinence.
What Is Stage 4 of Bed Sores?
Stage four is the highly advanced stage of a bed sore. This occurs when the previous three stages of bed sores get inadequate or no treatment. The wound extends into the deep tissues below the subcutaneous fat in stage four bed sores, putting the patient at risk of developing serious infections.
Since stage four bed sores are typically larger than other types of bed sores, they damage tendons, ligaments, and surrounding bones. The wound extends to the bones because the blood supply to the tissues is severely cut off. One common symptom of a stage four bedsore is a foul odor coming from the wound. Other symptoms include dark scabs, slough, necrotic tissue, tissue loss, hot skin at the wound site, blisters, pus or greenish discharge, swelling, and high fever.
Generally, people who have diseases or injuries leading to immobility can develop bed sores. Poor nutrition, dementia, diabetes, nerve damage, obesity, dehydration, incontinence, and fragile skin are additional risk factors for stage four bedsores. Patients who suffered from bed sores in the past, especially those with bed sore wounds that were not adequately healed, are highly at risk of developing them again.
In nursing facilities, older adults that are left in their beds or wheelchairs for prolonged periods without proper care can develop bed sores due to the prolonged pressure on the skin. A stage four bedsore can foster bacterial infections such as cellulitis, metastatic, and systemic infections, including meningitis and endocarditis. It can also have additional severe physical complications such as tissue calcification.
Can Victims Fully Recover from Stage 4 Bedsores?
Whether a person can fully recover from a stage four bed sore depends on various factors, including the extent of the wound. If proper preventive measures and treatment are provided, bedsores may take anywhere from three months to two years to completely heal. However, if the bed sore has progressed to a severe level, it may never completely heal.
For stage two or higher bed sores, proper medical treatment is required immediately to prevent further development. If a stage four bedsore is allowed to develop, it may have adverse consequences, including cancer, bone infections, blood infections, and sepsis development.
A stage 4 bedsore might not be life-threatening, but its complications can derail recovery and put the patient’s health in danger. When a patient suffers from a stage four bed sore, they should receive medical attention where a doctor can examine their bed sore, prescribe medication and provide treatment to help them recover.
There are multiple treatment options for a stage four bed sore. When doctors diagnose a stage four bedsore, they administer antibiotics to stop the wound from progressing or developing infections.
In some cases, the treatment will include debridement and skin grafts, where the doctors remove the dead or infected skin from the wound and cover the areas with healthy skin to promote recovery. Relieving the affected area from pressure helps stop the bed sore from worsening. It also helps to maintain good moisture levels to speed up the healing process.
In some cases, stage four bedsores may never heal, so doctors prescribe treatment to help manage the pain and discomfort. This includes repositioning to alleviate pressure from the affected areas, negative pressure therapy, medication, and air fluidized therapy.
Get Compensation for a Stage 4 Bedsore
Stage four bedsores can also financially burden the patient as extensive wounds require expensive surgeries and long-term treatment. Along with the financial burden and physical discomfort, stage four bedsores can cause mental distress to patients, especially in nursing homes when patients are isolated and receive inadequate treatment. The patient or their loved one could take legal action against the nursing facility if their neglect was the cause of the bed sores.
To get reimbursement for the damages, you should hire an experienced attorney. According to NYC bedsore lawyer – Isaacson, Schiowitz & Korson, an attorney can help you gather evidence to establish liability and provide expert guidance on how to obtain maximum compensation for your suffering.