An innocuous-looking bedsore can be the forerunner of a serious, life-threatening condition.

Elderly nursing home patients are particularly at risk and the facility may have to defend against a claim of negligence if bedsore complications develop.

About bedsores

A bedsore, sometimes called a pressure sore, can develop at various places on the body. Those confined to bed or who have disabilities that impede regular movement are most at risk. Medical professionals rank bedsores by severity from stage one through stage four. Normally, they develop over time, but they can also arise within a period of two hours.

Possible complications

The skin beneath the sore can rapidly decay as well as the underlying muscle and tendons requiring transfer from nursing home to hospital so that the patient can receive better care. If an elderly patient enters stage four of the condition, the resulting complications, including serious infection, renal failure and septic shock, can be fatal.

Prevention methods

Nursing home staff must be vigilant when caring for residents with little mobility. A resident confined to bed must be moved into a new position every few hours. Those who can sit in a chair or even a wheelchair must change positions frequently. Nursing staff should ensure that a resident’s clothing fits properly and does not restrict the skin. Some nursing homes offer buffet dining to encourage residents to get out of their chairs and move about.

Next steps

Families who have loved ones in nursing homes can worry over the standard of care, especially if the facility becomes short-staffed. If the family suspects a lack of proper treatment for bedsores, the next step may be to file a claim of negligence against the facility.