Do Bedsores Indicate Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing homes serve an essential role in American communities. As people age, some can no longer be cared for at home. Nursing homes provide one option to meet the needs of these people and their families.

Ideally, residents receive proper nutrition and assistance with their acts of daily care. Most nursing homes have skilled nurses and other assistants trained to deal with the elderly and the typical issues that affect their lives.

However, when a loved one moves into a nursing home, we often have a heightened concern about their health, safety, and the appropriateness of their care. Thus, it’s understandable and important that we evaluate medical conditions or injuries that develop in the nursing home.

One condition that is common in nursing homes is bedsores. That brings us to the topic of this article  - do bedsores indicate nursing home neglect?

Nursing Homes in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States in 2016. These nursing homes contained 1.7 million licensed beds and 1.5 million residents. Many of these residents were already in a state of poor health when they arrived. This makes them especially susceptible to developing additional health problems.

What are bedsores?

Bedsores are ulcers that form on the skin as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin. They are also called “decubitus ulcers” and “pressure ulcers.” When bedsores first begin to form, the skin is red and warm. A blister or open sore forms and may be surrounded by discolored skin. There is damage below the surface of the skin, and a sunken appearance develops. Skin and tissue can be severely damaged, and tendons, bones, and muscles may become visible.

When treated medically, bedsores often heal appropriately. However, some can create permanent problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated bedsores can lead to the following complications:

  • Cellulitis – a bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body. The results can be life-threatening.
  • Infections in bones and joints
  • Sepsis
  • Increased chance of developing cancer

Who is most likely to develop bedsores?

Because bedsores are caused by prolonged pressure to a particular body part, nursing home residents who are confined to a bed or wheelchair for substantial periods of time are at greater risk for developing bedsores. Therefore, these people should change positions every 15 minutes so that the same body part does not remain under pressure.

Some people cannot move as needed and will need assistance from the nursing home staff.

Are bedsores a sign of neglect?

It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, bedsores cannot be avoided. On the other hand, once caregivers are placed on notice of the problem, it should be addressed promptly. Early treatment is crucial for bedsores. A failure to treat the condition in its early stages can lead to serious health complications. Moreover, nursing homes are required to follow strict legal guidelines in caring for and meeting the needs of residents.

If you believe that a nursing home is not promptly treating bedsores developed by a loved one, or that the nursing home is not taking appropriate steps to help prevent the occurrence of bedsores, you may want to consider whether neglect is involved.

Call with Questions

If you believe your loved one has suffered injury due to the actions or neglect of a nursing home or its employees, you likely have questions. Please give us a call so that we can answer them for you. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, our personal injury attorneys are experienced in investigating abuse and neglect cases, as well as malpractice and other forms of negligence. We believe that the only way to keep our elderly population safe is to hold accountable those who do not meet the required standard of care.


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