Recognizing bedsores as a sign of neglect

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

We hear about nursing home neglect and elder abuse all the time. Unfortunately, it is likely happening more often than we know about. One of the best ways that families can protect their loved ones is to stay diligent during the time their family member is in the care of others and understand and recognize the signs of neglect and abuse.

One of the most common, early signs of nursing home neglect, is the presence of bedsores. The challenges family members face when trying to identify early signs of abuse and neglect, is that these signs are very often present and similar to other conditions and illnesses. Recognizing bedsores in the early stages may be a challenge, but by staying knowledgeable about additional signs of abuse, it may be possible to identify neglect before it is too late.

A bedsore, also known as a pressure sore, is an ulceration of the skin and underlying tissue as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin. These ulcers typically develop over bony areas such as hips, ankles and the tailbone. While these sores can affect anyone with a condition that limits mobility, they are extremely common in seniors suffering from neglect. The earliest sign of a bedsore is reddening of the skin. This discoloration may look purple or darkened, and may feel warm to the touch.

There are four stages referred to when categorizing bedsores. The first stage refers to a bedsore in which the skin is still intact. At this stage, the sore can be successfully treated with a few simple changes. During stages two, three and four, the skin is broken and may expose underlying fatty tissue or even muscle and bone. Depending on how deep the ulcer goes, treatment may not be successful. Bedsores can develop well past stage four and typically result in deep tissue loss. These injuries are extremely painful and can result in infection.

To successfully treat a bedsore, early identification and prompt treatment is necessary. Although bedsores are not uncommon in a nursing home setting, they may be an early sign of neglect or abuse. For individuals concerned that their loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect, it may be beneficial to speak to an experienced attorney.

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