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What You Need to Know About Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers

September 1, 2023 |

Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue. They result from prolonged pressure on the skin, commonly affecting individuals confined to beds or wheelchairs for extended periods.

These skin injuries can lead to serious complications without prompt treatment, and recognizing common causes and risk factors can help prevent them. However, in some cases, bed sores may be indicative of a more serious situation—including nursing home abuse.

Common Causes and Risk Factors of Bed Sores

Bed sores occur when there is continuous pressure on a particular part of the body. This pressure cuts off the blood supply to the skin, leading to tissue damage or death. Pressure ulcers often develop on the bony parts of the body, such as the hips, shoulder blades, or tailbone. Many factors can raise a person’s risk for bed sores, such as:

  • Immobility: People confined to beds or wheelchairs, either due to paralysis, health conditions, or advanced age, are especially vulnerable to developing pressure ulcers. Caregivers must help move these individuals at regular intervals to prevent this condition.
  • Friction: Movement, such as sliding down a bed, can lead to the skin rubbing against clothing or bedding, making it more susceptible to sores.
  • Moisture: Prolonged skin wetness, from sweat or incontinence, weakens the skin and makes a person more likely to develop a bed sore. Proper hygiene is key to reducing this risk factor.
  • Poor Nutrition and Hydration: Inadequate protein or vitamin C intake can compromise skin health and therefore increase the risk of pressure ulcers.
  • Medical Conditions: Illnesses that affect blood flow, like diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, can make some people more susceptible to bed sores than others.

The Stages and Symptoms of Pressure Ulcers

Without proper treatment, pressure ulcers can worsen and lead to sometimes life-threatening complications. Medical professionals classify bed sores into four stages based on the severity of the condition, which aids in diagnosis and treatment:

  • Stage I: The patient has redness on the skin that doesn’t fade when pressed. The skin might feel either warmer or cooler than the surrounding skin.
  • Stage II: The skin breaks open or forms an ulcer, which is typically tender and painful. It might appear as a shallow bowl-like or crater-like wound.
  • Stage III: The ulcer deepens further, extending into the tissue beneath the skin, forming a deeper crater. Damage might also extend to the fat tissue.
  • Stage IV: This is the most severe stage. The ulcer has now reached muscle, bone, or tendons. The risk of infection is significantly high, and there might be evident tissue necrosis or death.

Prevention and Management Strategies for Bed Sores in Nursing Homes

Preventing bed sores often requires a combination of routine care, vigilance, and proactive measures. For people who are bed- or wheelchair-bound, caregivers must ensure to rotate their position every two hours. Pillows, foam pads, and mattresses designed to alleviate pressure can help prevent the development of pressure ulcers as well.


Nursing home caregivers should also use mild soap and warm water to clean their residents’ skin regularly and make sure the skin is fully dry before they return to bed. Residents should also stay well-hydrated and eat a diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Additionally, caregivers should regularly inspect the skin, especially over bony areas, for signs of pressure ulcers or any changes in skin condition. If there are signs of bed sores, they should seek medical care for the resident as soon as possible.

How Nursing Home Abuse Can Lead to Bed Sores

Nursing home residents are inherently at a heightened risk for bed sores due to age, reduced mobility, and other health issues. When coupled with neglect or abuse, the risk multiplies. There are many ways that abuse and neglect can lead to pressure sores, such as:

  • Neglect in Repositioning: Failure to move or turn residents regularly can lead to prolonged pressure on certain body parts.
  • Inadequate Nutrition: Not providing residents with proper meals can make them malnourished, weakening their skin and overall health.
  • Hygiene Negligence: Not maintaining proper cleanliness, especially for residents with incontinence, can lead to moisture-induced sores.
  • Ignoring Early Signs: Failure to address early symptoms can lead to the progression of the sores and potentially dangerous complications.
  • Inadequate Staff Training: If staff aren’t trained in pressure ulcer prevention and care, they may not know what to look for or how to properly care for residents. This can increase the risk of pressure ulcers.

Pursuing Legal Action for Pressure Ulcer Complications

If you or a loved one has developed a pressure ulcer while in a nursing home or care facility, and you believe it resulted from negligence or abuse, you may qualify for legal action. Pressure ulcers can lead to serious complications, from infections to life-threatening conditions. If nursing home neglect leads to a pressure ulcer, you may have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the facility and recover compensation to help pay for medical care, pain and suffering, and other damages.

To hold a nursing home accountable for its actions, you and your attorney will need to gather enough evidence to prove four critical facts:

  • The nursing home owed you or a loved one a duty to uphold a certain standard of care.
  • The nursing home failed to meet the standard of care through abuse or neglect.
  • The abuse or neglect led to the development of pressure ulcers.
  • You or your loved one suffered damages that you could recover in the claim.

You can leverage several pieces of evidence to prove these facts, such as medical records, internal documents, witness testimony, and insights from experts. A lawyer experienced in nursing home abuse claims can help collect this information and craft a compelling case on your behalf.

Contact a Milwaukee Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today

If you suspect that a loved one’s bed sores are the result of negligence in a Milwaukee nursing home or medical facility, it is imperative to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An attorney with experience in nursing home abuse lawsuits can guide you through the process, evaluate the specifics of your case, and advise on the best course of action.

Taking prompt legal action can not only secure compensation for your loved one but also hold the facility accountable for abusive or negligent practices. After getting your loved one to safety, contact a Milwaukee nursing home abuse attorney to discuss your legal options and plan your next steps.

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