Bedsores: Symptoms, Sites, Causes, Risk Factors, Complications, and Prevention
Bedsores are caused by a lack of attention and improper medical care in nursing homes. These injuries leave patients vulnerable to serious health conditions, including infections and other life-threatening injuries. They are also a common sign that an elderly patient is being neglected or abused.
Who is Most at Risk for Bed Sores?
Elderly patients in nursing homes or hospital care who have difficultly moving or cannot move at all are most at risk for bedsores, also called pressure ulcers. Those who are confined to bed or left sitting for long periods in wheelchairs are the highest risk. Certain health conditions, like diabetes, can make a patient more susceptible to these sores. Two-thirds of bedsore cases occur in patients who are 70 or older.
How are Bedsores Caused?
Pressure ulcers can develop when an area of skin is subjected to a large amount of pressure for a short period of time. They can also occur from minor force that is applied over a longer amount of time. The pressure disrupts normal blood flow through the skin. This starves the compromised area’s skin of oxygen and nutrients and causes the skin to break down and form an ulcer.
Common Bedsore Symptoms
Bedsores usually occur on parts of the body that do not have much cushioning from body fat, like the tailbone, elbows, spine, buttocks, shoulder blades, and other areas. Symptoms of bedsores include:
- Abnormal changes in texture or color of skin
- Swelling and tenderness in affected areas
- Areas of skin that feel warmer or cooler to the touch than other areas
- Pus or fluids draining from ulcerated area
Complications Caused from Bedsores
Bedsores can cause life-threatening complications. Infection can spread to healthy skin surrounding the sore and cause cellulitis. Bone and joint infections can occur that damage tissue and cartilage. Long-term sores that will not heal can turn into a type of squamous cell carcinoma. In severe cases, deadly sepsis may occur.
Protecting Vulnerable Patients from Bedsores
Unfortunately, many of the same reasons why patients are in nursing homes are the same reasons they are more vulnerable to bedsores. It is important that these individuals are repositioned at least once an hour and are supplied with special equipment, like specialty wheelchairs, cushions, or mattresses that relieve pressure.