Pressure sores, or bedsores, are common injuries often caused by negligent care of patients. In negligence cases, it may be possible to pursue justice.
If someone does decide to pursue a claim, identifying the severity of the bedsore will be an important part of proving the negligence claim and determining damages. There are a few key facts to understand about pressure sores.
What they are
Pressure sores are a form of injury that occurs when direct pressure to an area of the body results in blood loss to the skin there. The sores usually develop in areas where the resting body applies pressure against a surface, such as the back of the head, buttocks and ankles in constant contact with a mattress. A person with mobility issues often cannot shift to relieve the pressure and must rely on a caregiver to reposition the body and prevent the bedsores.
Pressure sores can go through a few different stages if left untreated. The stages indicate the depth of the sore. There are four stages:
- Upper layer of the skin
- Second layer of skin
- Into the fat tissue
- Into the tendons, muscle and bone
While sores at stage one may only require changing body positions frequently and cleaning the area, stages three and four sores may require surgery. Depending upon the stage and the overall condition of the patient, a sore may take a few days to several years to completely heal.
Unstageable bedsores must be cleaned out before a physician is able to determine the depth and severity. Some deep tissue injuries may look like a less severe bedsore on the surface, but are actually serious underneath the skin. This is why having a physician exam the sores can be critical.
No matter what stage a pressure sore is in, immediate attention is key. When pressure sores develop due to negligent care, parties should maintain medical documentation from the incident.