Bedsores can be serious medical conditions that progress through a series of stages, each one more complicated than the next. By the time a pressure ulcer reaches stage 4, it is at its most serious. Stage 4 pressure ulcers are life-threatening because of the risk of potential complications they pose. A person afflicted by a stage 4 pressure ulcer may face potential deadly complications such as:
- This initial skin infection may become deadly when it reaches the lymph nodes and bloodstream, leading to a condition called sepsis. The rapid spread of infection through the bloodstream can lead to multisystem organ failure and death.
- Bone Infections. Bedsores begin at the outermost layer of skin and move through the layers of tissue as they progress. By the time they reach stage 4, bone infection may be present. Infections that occur within the bone are difficult to treat and may not respond well to medications.
- Also called gas gangrene, myonecrosis is a medical condition that involves a specific type of bacteria that affects the muscle tissue and rapidly leads to death. The infection is very fast acting and can lead to widespread cell death within a matter of minutes. Left untreated, the condition can be fatal in as little as 24 hours.
- Necrotizing fasciitis. This serious medical condition involves the rapid death of tissue within the cells. The infection kills underlying tissue within hours and can lead to death within days without appropriate medical treatment.
Symptoms of Stage 4 Ulcers
Stage 4 bedsores often have a gruesome appearance, but they may not be painful to the patient, as damage this extensive often kills the nerve endings in the surrounding skin. However, victims of bedsores have likely been in pain previously. In a stage 4 bedsore, a patient’s joints, muscles, tendons, and even bone may be visible. Often, the skin surrounding these bedsores appears rotten and blackish, with crusty tissue surrounding the wound.
Stage 4 bedsores are almost always infected. Unfortunately, when a bedsore reaches this stage, it is almost impossible for the patient to make a full recovery. A patient is often battling sepsis and other life-threating medical conditions.
Treatment for Stage 4 Bedsores
Treating a bedsore at this stage is a matter of minimizing further discomfort to the patient and attempting to control any infections and other co-occurring medical conditions. Stage 4 bedsores require immediate intervention from a medical professional. Effective management of symptoms may include:
- Treatment with antibiotics and pain medication.
- Debridement, which involves removing the dead skin from the wound area to encourage the growth of new cells.
- Air-fluidized therapy. This newer form of bedsore treatment uses air-fluidized beds to increase oxygen to the affected area. However, it works better as a method of prevention as opposed to treatment for an advanced wound.
- Addressing any complications with medical intervention. Unfortunately, the best way to address a stage 4 bedsore is through amputation of the affected limb. If a patient is healthy enough to endure the surgery, this can help prevent life-threatening complications such as sepsis.
Many patients are already too sick to undergo this type of medical procedure. Stage 4 bedsores are often incurable. By the time they reach this stage, they are already life-threatening and patients may be too weak or too sick to fight back from the infection and other complications that may arise. By the time that a pressure ulcer progresses to stage 4, caregiver or nursing home negligence is evident. Bedsores should never progress to this stage with proper observation and prevention techniques. Unfortunately, sores that reach this stage can prove fatal from a host of serious complications, most commonly sepsis. If you or somebody you love developed stage 4 bedsores because of poor observation and prevention techniques, consult a nursing home abuse attorney in West Virginia.