While many kids will try to take care of their parents as they get older, many people simply do not have the resources available to care for their loved ones as they age. This could be due to financial reasons or because their loved ones require professional medical care that can no longer be delivered in the home.
For families in this situation, they often place their loved ones in the care of professionals at a nursing home. These are people who are trusted to take care of their loved ones in the same manner that family members would. Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to live up to these expectations. One of the injuries that family members or friends may notice is called a decubitus ulcer.
A decubitus ulcer is an erosion on the surface of the skin. This happens when an area of skin is exposed to high pressure for an extended period of time. In fact, many people refer to these ulcers as bed sores. As people age, it is not uncommon for them to have trouble rolling over or getting out of bed. Many people have disabilities that preclude them from moving without the assistance of the professionals at the nursing home. Sometimes, these patients are neglected by the nursing home staff. When this happens, patients may lay in bed for hours or days on end. If they do not change position, the pressure from the bed can actually erode through the surface of their skin. This is what happens when a decubitus ulcer is formed.
Symptoms of a decubitus ulcer include erosion at the surface of the skin along the pressure points. These are locations where the skin is thin because the bone is just underneath the surface. When this skin gets trapped between the hard bone and the hard bed surface, the skin erodes. Patients and family members may notice bleeding or oozing from the site. These ulcers are also painful for the patients. If the ulcer is not addressed quickly, the ulcer can spread. Some decubitus ulcers that are neglected for an extended period of time can wind up being extremely large.
Treatment of these dangerous ulcers involves rolling the patient or removing them from the bed surface entirely. It is vital that staff and family members take note of the ulcer and remove any pressure from the surface around the ulcer. Proper dressings and bandages are required for the ulcer because it is not uncommon for these sites to become infected. People should take the time to inspect other surfaces of the skin that may have been exposed to pressure for an extended period because it is not uncommon for patients to develop more than one ulcer at a time. Once the patient has received proper treatment, it is important for the nursing home and the patient's family to investigate the factors that led to the development of these ulcers because they should not have happened in the first place. An experienced attorney can aid families in this investigation.