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What Is A Bedsore?

Bedsores are skin ulcers that develop as the result of pressure, shear, or friction against one area of the skin. The main risk factor for developing a bedsore is limited mobility. Caretakers and nursing homes must take special care with patients who have limited mobility in order to prevent bedsores. Regular repositioning and frequent head-to-toe skin assessment should be conducted.

#1 Cause: Pressure

Doctors frequently refer to bedsores as pressure sores. Prolonged pressure on any one part of the body can cause a bedsore. Patients with limited mobility may remain on one position for very long periods of time. If they are positioned in a way that puts too much pressure on one part of their body, they may develop a bedsore. Moving regularly is very important in preventing these types of sores. Patients who are completely immobile, even just for a few hours, are at risk of possibly developing a bedsore.

Excessive pressure can impede circulation. When a person sits or lies down in one position for a long period of time, tissue becomes compressed between their bones and the surface of whatever surface they are on. This slows or stops the blood flow, depriving the person’s tissue of oxygen and of vital nutrients that are carried in the blood. This lack of circulation can cause a person’s skin to die within only a half a day. The damage quickly spreads to deeper and deeper layers of the tissue. Pressure most commonly causes bedsores in areas that lack muscle and fat, including:

  • Spine
  • Tailbone
  • Shoulder blades
  • Hips
  • Heels
  • Elbows
  • Toes
  • Ankles

#2 Cause: Shear

Shear means the movement of two different surfaces in opposite directions from each other. In the human body, this could refer to the skin moving one way and the underlying bone moving in another direction. When someone immobile is being repositioned by another person, shearing can cause a kink to develop in blood vessels, which keeps tissue from receiving the proper nutrients from the blood supply.

Patients with limited mobility need assistance moving from one surface to another. This movement may help with preventing bedsores, but caretakers need to be especially careful when moving patients because bedsores can also form if skin is damaged by shear during the moving process.

Another way shear can cause bedsores is when a patient keeps their head elevated while in bed. This elevation may be able to help avoid bedsores from pressure, but it can also cause shearing. If the patient or resident slides down the mattress, their tailbone will move while the skin over the tailbone will stay in place. In order to avoid shear, elevation should always be kept at 30 degrees or lower.

#3 Cause: Friction

Friction is what occurs when the skin rubs up against a surface like clothing or bedding. Residents at nursing homes are usually elderly. Skin tends to become more fragile as we age, which causes it to become more vulnerable to injuries. Friction can cause harm to blood vessels, which will inhibit circulation.

Patients who suffer from limited mobility need to be repositioned regularly in order to avoid bedsores from developing from pressure. However, this repositioning needs to be done ever so carefully to avoid the sliding or rubbing of the skin. Even very gentle readjustments can cause harm to incredibly fragile skin.

Elderly skin needs to be regularly moisturized to stay healthy, but excess moisture can also raise the risk of friction. Skin should always be kept both clean and dry. Sometimes, Talcum powder is used to keep friction at bay.

Sheepskin boots can be helpful to reduce friction on heels and elbows. Small debris, like crumbs, or even folds in sheets can cause friction against the skin. All caretakers should carefully maintain both the bedding and clothing of patients, and change both often.

Neglect Induced Bedsores

In a nursing home environment, it is very important for caretakers to be well educated about the risk of bedsores and to treat all at-risk residents accordingly. Bedsores are nearly always preventable. Proper hygiene, regular readjustments, health assessments, proper nutrition, and adequate hydration are all necessary to prevent and treat bedsores. Position changes should always be performed as often as possible for anyone who struggles to move on their own. Nursing homes should frequently assess and identify which patients may need readjustments and take special care to address their needs. Nursing home providers must remain vigilant for patients who are at risk for the formation of bedsores.

Regular skin assessments are very important for residents at risk for bedsores. Head-to-toe checks need to be done at least once every day. During these skin assessments, attendants should always check for any signs, no matter how small, that bedsores may be developing. Employees performing these checks need to be educated about all the possible warning signs of developing bedsores, including:

  • Reddish or discolored skin
  • Lack of blanching (lightening of skin when pressure is put on it)
  • Blisters
  • Open wounds
  • Skin that is unusually soft or firm
  • Painful or irritated skin

Nursing home employees are also responsible for regularly feeding and hydrating their residents in the proper manner. One of the major risk factors for developing bedsores is malnutrition or dehydration. Healthy skin is much more capable of protecting the tissue beneath it. With or without bedsores, dehydration and malnutrition are always serious signs of possible neglect in a nursing home environment. Nursing homes can be held responsible in cases of neglect or even nursing home abuse.

For more information on Bedsore Injuries In Nursing Homes, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 800-835-5762 & 954-456-2488 today.

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