Stages of Bedsores From Nursing Homes
Bedsores are classified into one of four stages at the time of diagnosis. Based on the stage, a patient may have high odds of a full recovery or may be facing life-threatening health complications. At stage four, a bedsore can even be deadly. If your loved one developed a bedsore while at a nursing home in Walnut Creek, you may have grounds to file a neglect or abuse lawsuit against the facility for failing to take proper care of its residents.
What Is a Bedsore?
A bedsore is a type of pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer that forms when an area of skin is cut off from its supply of blood and oxygen for a prolonged period of time. Bedsores often form in people who are bedridden for extended periods, such as the elderly, infirm and disabled. When the blood supply to the skin is interrupted for more than a few hours, it damages and can ultimately destroy the tissues. This results in a painful sore that can become an open wound as it progresses through the four stages of a bedsore.
Diagnosing a Nursing Home Bedsore
A bedsore begins as a patch of skin that may appear red or discolored and feel painful for the patient. If left undiagnosed and untreated, a bedsore can worsen until blood flow is restored. Depending on how long this takes, the bedsore can progress to advanced stages. This puts the patient at risk of significant harm. A bedsore will be classified into one of four stages when diagnosed by a physician.
A stage one bedsore, the mildest stage, presents as a patch of red skin on lighter skin or blue or purple skin on darker skin. The patient may complain that the area is itchy, painful, burning, tingling or uncomfortable. It may feel warm or cold to the touch. Restoring blood flow to the area and gently washing it with mild soap and water is typically enough to heal a stage one bedsore in just a few days.
A stage two bedsore means that the wound has extended below the surface of the skin. In stage two, a bedsore will look like an open wound or blister that may ooze pus or clear fluid. The area around the wound will appear discolored, swollen and warm. Stage two bedsores are significantly painful for most patients. Common treatments include pain relievers, cleaning the wound to prevent infection and covering the sore with an appropriate dressing. These bedsores typically take three days to three weeks to heal.
At stage three, a bedsore resembles a crater, as the damage has gone into the fatty tissues beneath the second layer of skin. The tissue around the sore may appear discolored or black due to tissue necrosis (death). There may be a bad odor and signs of infection, such as pus, drainage and fever. Treating a stage three bedsore may require the removal of dead tissue and a round of antibiotics to fight infection. These sores can take up to four months to heal, on average.
The most severe type of bedsore is a stage four ulcer. At this level, the sore can affect the muscles and ligaments. It will look like a large open wound, where muscles and bones may be visible at the bottom. Serious infections, sepsis and death are possible at this stage. Treating a stage four bedsore often requires surgery. It can take a nursing home resident several months to a year or longer to heal from this type of ulcer.
Can You File a Lawsuit for a Nursing Home Bedsore?
Nursing homes are legally obligated to take proper care of their residents. This responsibility comes with many specific duties, including paying special attention to those at risk of bedsores. If a nursing home failed to prevent your loved one’s stage three or four bedsore, you may have grounds to bring a lawsuit against the facility. Contact a Los Angeles bedsore attorney for more information.