Hospitals and Bedsores: Deadlier Than You Think
Many of us have heard of bedsores, the small wounds that develop after the skin is allowed to be in contact with a bed for an extended period of time. Bedsores are a type of pressure ulcers. The formation of a pressure ulcer is a never event. They are most prevalent in nursing homes and hospitals, where staff need to make sure residents and patients move the proper amount to avoid the wound. A minor bedsore is treated similarly to a cut and can heal fairly quickly and easily on its own. But, if the staff fail to do their jobs, and bedsores are allowed to develop far past the early stages, then they can have a serious impact on the victim’s health. It may even prove to be fatal.
What is a Stage 4 Bedsore?
If a bedsore is categorized as stage 4, then that means it has progressed to the most severe point possible. The patient or resident with the bedsore will likely suffer from decaying tissue, which can reach all the way to the muscles, ligaments, and even the bones. In order to diagnose the stage of a bedsore, a doctor will have to review the appearance of the wound and how far down the decay has progressed.
It is possible, however, that the doctor in charge of the diagnosis will have a difficult time determining exactly what stage the bedsore is in, as they may not be able to see the bottom of the wound due to foreign objects or pus from an infection. The infection may also look like an earlier stage from the outside, such as stage 1 or 2, but it actually goes much deeper into the body. Those are referred to as suspected deep tissue injuries (SDTI) and can present a problem, as they may not be as immediately noticeable as a clear stage 4 wound.
Why Stage 4 Bedsores are Dangerous
The biggest danger of bedsores, besides the intense pain they can cause those who suffer from them, is the chance of infection. Stage 4 bedsores result in a massive amount of decaying flesh, muscle, and ligaments. That kind of decay can easily introduce harmful bacteria into the body and bloodstream. This can cause the victim to develop septic shock, blood poisoning, or even die to the infection.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, roughly 60,000 people die from bedsores each year, many of them elders who have been neglected by staff at nursing homes. Bedsores are almost always a direct result of negligence, whether it be a nursing home, a hospital, or even at your own house from a private caretaker. There is never any reason why bedsores, especially stage 4 bedsores, should develop unless staff are not performing their duties properly.
Treating Stage 4 Bedsores
First, the bedsore must be spotted in order to be treated. Most stage 4 bedsore symptoms relate to the bacterial infection that the victim is most likely suffering from. These symptoms include:
- Foul smells
- Intense swelling around the sore
- Exposed bone or tissue
- Inflamed skin around the sore
- Blackened skin
If you notice your loved one exhibiting these symptoms, you should get them medical help immediately. If you delay, there is the very real possibility that they will die of their wounds. Treating the damage done will likely involve surgeries to remove the decayed parts of the body, skin grafts to make sure the impacted area is covered by healthy skin, and strong anti-biotics that will treat any infections that may have developed.
Even with proper treatment, it can take anywhere from three months to two years for stage 4 bedsores to completely heal. That means a lot of pain and suffering for your loved one and a lot of medical costs for proper care. No one should have to pay for neglect and abuse at the hands of staff that were meant to care for them. If you or your loved one have suffered severe bedsores as a result of negligence, then you deserve compensation. Thankfully, we at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. are here to help. Call our firm at (303) 759-9945 for a free consultation, where our Denver personal injury attorneys can answer your questions and provide you with the help you need.