How to Treat Bedsores
A bedsore is an ulcer that is caused by consistent pressure or friction applied against one part of the body. Bedsores are most common among people who are immobile or bedridden, such as the elderly and those with disabilities. They are also referred to as pressure sores, pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers. Prompt response and treatment to a bedsore are critical for preventing it from worsening and causing more damage. The appropriate treatment plan for a bedsore depends on the stage of its progression and the unique circumstances.
What Does a Bedsore Look Like?
A bedsore can appear as a spot of red or discolored skin that may feel warm to the touch. The patient may complain that the area is painful or itchy. In later stages, a bedsore can present as an open wound with a crater-like appearance and red or discolored surrounding skin. As soon as a bedsore is discovered, the pressure should be removed from the area to restore the flow of blood to the skin and tissues. This can begin the healing process. From there, how a bedsore is treated depends on the stage of the ulcer.
A stage 1 bedsore does not have any broken skin. This is the easiest stage to treat, as it generally only involves removing pressure from the area and exercising the patient regularly to prevent further issues. Keeping the patient properly nourished and hydrated can help the skin remain strong and intact. The patient may also wish to use frictionless sheets and pillows or padding to cushion the area. Most stage 1 bedsores heal completely in about three days with no lasting damage.
A stage 2 bedsore has broken the skin and may appear like a shallow open wound with or without drainage or pus. It may also present as a fluid-filled blister. A stage 2 bedsore comes with a risk of infection. As such, treatment involves keeping the wound clean, dry and covered in a special wound dressing. This type of bedsore should also be treated by removing pressure from the area and watching for signs of infection, such as red streaks or fever. The recovery time for a stage 2 bedsore is around three days to three weeks.
At stage 3, a bedsore has progressed to a crater on the skin that has broken through the top two layers (the epidermis and the dermis) and may be exposing fatty tissues. Infections are common at this stage and can show indicators such as fever, pus drainage and redness. A stage 3 bedsore requires immediate medical attention, as a doctor will need to remove any necrotized skin (dead tissues) and treat infections. The patient may receive prescription medications to control pain caused by the bedsore and wound care. The average recovery time for a stage 3 bedsore is one to four months.
Stage 4 is the most severe level of bedsore. It is a deep, open crater in the skin with bone and muscle visible at the bottom. It is a medical emergency that may require surgery to treat. A surgeon may need to cover the open wound and cushion the exposed bone using the patient’s skin or muscle tissue (flap surgery), for example. A stage 4 bedsore comes with a high risk of life-threatening health complications, such as sepsis, cellulitis and bone infections. It can take anywhere from three months to two years to completely heal from a stage 4 bedsore. Sadly, a stage 4 bedsore can also be fatal.
Who Pays for Bedsore Treatment?
Bedsores are almost always preventable. They are often signs of medical malpractice or nursing home abuse and neglect, as they can be prevented with proper care and attention to a vulnerable patient. If someone else’s negligence caused you or a loved one’s bedsore, that party may be responsible for paying for your required medical treatments. Discuss your case with a Los Angeles bedsore attorney today to explore your legal options.