Pressure ulcers, or what most people call bedsores, are medically complex wounds that can lead to a range of negative health effects. At their mildest, they are still extremely uncomfortable and capable of causing intense pain. At their worst, they can cause infection and other complications in an already vulnerable population. Whether these wounds can lead to death depending on the situation. Here, our Charleston personal injury attorneys discuss what you need to know about
What is a Bed Sore?
A bedsore occurs when caregivers fail to turn an incapacitated patient, such as an elderly person or a disabled nursing home resident, often enough, leading to blood pooling in a single location. Nursing home employees have an obligation to move residents to prevent pressure ulcers and the potential complications they can cause, which are numerous.
A bedsore begins as a red area that may be tender or painful to the touch. As it evolves, it may open and develop into a crater-like wound. The wound progresses through several stages that become progressively harder to treat.
It’s important to realize that a bedsore cannot cause death by itself. However, failure to appropriately intervene and stop a bedsore from developing may lead to complications that can be fatal, especially for patients with weak immune systems like the elderly.
If you or a loved one has developed bedsores due to negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Learn more about your available legal options by speaking with a West Virginia nursing home abuse lawyer.
Several types of complications may arise from negligent treatment of bedsores. These include:
- Necrotizing fasciitis. As the name implies, necrotizing fasciitis involves the rapid death of cell tissue. The infection can kill the underlying tissues within a matter of hours and may prove fatal without appropriate treatment.
- Bone infections. As bedsores progress, they move from the outermost layer of skin and begin to infect the muscle and other structures beneath. In the most advanced stages, they can lead to bone infection. These types of infections can be difficult to treat, and the degradation of bone tissue can cause the infection to spread throughout the bloodstream, leading to a condition called sepsis. Inappropriately treated, bone infections can become fatal.
- Myonecrosis. This condition, also known as gas gangrene, occurs when a specific type of bacteria infiltrates the muscle tissue and can lead to cell death within minutes. The infection is fast acting and can destroy muscles very quickly. Rapid destruction of the body’s tissues can ultimately lead to multisystem organ failure and death.
- Complications from surgery. When a bedsore becomes severe enough, amputation of an affected limb may become necessary. This major surgery can lead to serious risks for the elderly or immunocompromised. Post-operative infections can lead to death from sepsis, even with in-hospital monitoring.
- Cellulitis. This condition is a common complication of bedsores and involves the bacterial infection of the skin. This can occur in the earliest stages of bed sore development. The skin of someone with cellulitis is red and is generally warm or painful to the touch. It most often occurs in the lower limbs but may affect virtually any area of the body. Cellulitis can be potentially dangerous because the bacterial infection that causes it can progress into the bloodstream, leading to organ failure and other complications. Cellulitis is only deadly when left untreated long enough to create a systemic infection via the bloodstream or lymph nodes.
Pressure ulcers are serious medical conditions that require prompt medical intervention. Without appropriate treatment, they may lead to one of the conditions listed above. While bedsores themselves don’t kill, some of the complications that may arise can become fatal. Often, nursing home negligence plays a role in the development of these serious and potentially fatal complications from bedsores. Lack of surveillance may allow these wounds to progress to the most serious stages. If somebody you love passed away due to complications caused by bedsores, consider speaking with a West Virginia wrongful death attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC.