Bedsores—called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers—are wounds that occur to the body when a patient is immobile (such as laying in a hospital bed or sitting in a wheelchair) due to lack of proper blood flow to various regions of the body. The most common areas where bedsores develop are the tailbone, heels, ankles, and hips. Bedsores can develop within hours or days.
There are four main stages of a bedsore:
- Stage I occurs when the skin appears reddened and does not blanch (lose color briefly when you press your finger on it and then remove your finger).
- Stage II occurs when the skin breaks open, wears away, or forms an ulcer, which is usually tender and painful.
- In Stage III bedsores, the sore becomes worse and extends into the tissue beneath the skin, forming a small crater.
- Finally Stage IV—the most severe bedsores—the pressure injury is very deep, reaching into muscle and bone and causing extensive damage. Damage to deeper tissues, tendons, and joints may occur. Stage IV bedsores can cause bone infections called osteomyelitis.
In most cases, bedsores are completely preventable. Healthcare providers are trained to prevent bedsores by constantly repositioning patients so that blood flow can reach the areas of the body where bedsores develop. In fact, the standard of care for nurses is to turn/reposition a patient at risk for bedsores every two hours. Unfortunately, nurses do not always follow this protocol and patients develop bedsores.
If you or a loved one developed bedsores while admitted at a hospital or nursing facility, feel free to reach out to Shull & Klenda, as they have extensive experience litigating bedsore cases.