If you have a loved one in a hospital or nursing home, you may have heard the term “bedsores.” Bedsores are also known as pressure ulcers and they are injuries to the skin and the underlying tissues that form after there has been prolonged pressure on the skin. These pressure ulcers can also form from friction or shear.
Bedsores can appear essentially anywhere on the body, but there are spots that are more common if an individual is confined to a bed or wheelchair. Someone in a wheelchair may have pressure sores on the tailbone, buttocks, shoulder blades, spine, or the back of his arms and legs where they rest against the chair. If a person is confined to a bed, she may develop bedsores on the back or sides of the head, rim of the ears, shoulders, shoulder blades, hips, lower back, heels, ankle, and skin behind the knees.
Not all bedsores are the same and will fall into one of four different stages. With the most basic bedsores in stage one, the skin is still intact, it's slightly red, and may be a different temperature or texture from other parts of the skin. However, a stage four bedsore is extremely severe and may expose muscle, bone, and tendons. The damage also usually extends beyond the primary wound to lower layers of healthy skin.
Medical personnel are trained to take action to prevent the formation of bedsores in patients under their care. Thus, when bedsores develop, they can be a sign of hospital or nursing home neglect of a vulnerable patient.
Bedsores are nothing to take lightly and should be treated immediately should they form. If left untreated, pressure ulcers can cause sepsis, cellulitis, infections, cancer, and even death.
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