What is it?
Bedsores, known medically as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are lesions that develop on the skin when pressure cuts off circulation to that part of the body, depriving the tissue of oxygen and causing it to die. Bedsores occur most often on bony areas of the body where the tissue and skin are thinner, like the tailbone, elbows, or shoulder blade skin. They are called bedsores because they are most often sustained by bedridden patients such as the infirm, the elderly, or the movement-impaired, who cannot easily shift position to relieve pressure to affected areas.
What causes it?
Bedsores are often the result of neglect. It is critical that patients at risk for bedsores be turned often, and monitored to make sure no problems are developing. It is especially important to closely observe patients with nerve damage or who are highly medicated, as they may not be able to feel the pain themselves. Poor nutrition and dehydration can contribute to bedsores, as can inadequate hygiene. It’s especially important that the patient’s bed sheets and undergarments be kept free of moisture – failure to change sheets or adult diapers can cause serious problems.
Sores can develop quickly, and can be difficult to heal. There are four stages of severity, and at their most developed, the lesions can be fatal. If problems do develop, the patient’s family and doctor must be notified immediately so that proper care can be rendered.
Nursing homes and care providers have an obligation to maintain good hygiene in their facilities and provide consistent attention to their residents. With proper care, bedsores are easily preventable. Failure to maintain and follow basic steps to prevent and treat pressure ulcers violates the basic rights of nursing home patients and can be considered negligence on the part of a nursing home or care provider.
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