Often times facilities will take the position that a facility acquired bedsore or pressure sore was “unavoidable.” Facilities will often say that a bedsore developed “overnight” or that a sore is not due to pressure, but due to a patient’s decreased vascularity. In truth, facility acquired pressure sores are due to neglect and the failure to provide basic interventions (like pillows) to protect from skin breakdown.
A bedsore is an area of damaged tissue that usually occurs from sustained pressure in that area. Nursing home and RCFE residents are often unable to rotate themselves, and if not rotated by staff are left in the same position for many hours (if not days). This results in increased pressure on their skin, especially on the heels and coccyx (backside) area.
There are 4 stages of bedsores, Stage I-Stage IV. If skin breakdown is caught early, at Stage I, the breakdown can be treated with off-loading and other interventions to protect from further skin breakdown. However, if a bedsore reaches Stage IV, this means that the skin breakdown has reached the bone. These serious pressure sores can take weeks or months to heal and may require surgical intervention. A Stage IV pressure sore can even led to death if it becomes infected.
With proper care and adequate staffing, residents of nursing homes and RCFEs should never experience bedsores. Family members should ensure that residents at risk for skin breakdown are being rotated as required and assess their loved one’s skin to ensure that there is no skin breakdown.