Understanding Pressure Ulcers: Our St. Louis Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Shares Statistics and Facts You Need to Know
Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure sores, are very dangerous and even deadly medical emergencies. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, each year over 2.5 million patients suffer from a pressure ulcer and approximately 60,000 patients will die directly from a pressure ulcer. These are significant figures which cost the United States over $9 billion each year. Missouri acknowledges how destructive pressure ulcers really are, as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has a dedicated page just for pressure ulcers. Our St. Louis nursing home neglect lawyer knows this to be true, as the Terry Law Firm has handled many pressure sore cases against nursing homes throughout the Missouri, including here in St. Louis.
You may have already heard of a pressure ulcer, but do you know what it is and how devastating it can be? Pressure ulcers are areas of damaged skin from prolonged pressure or friction on the skin. The most vulnerable areas are areas where large, boney prominences are located such as the hips, tailbone, shoulder blades, and ankles. Pressure ulcers are a very damaging condition which could cause serious personal injury or wrongful death. It is important for patients and their families to know about pressure ulcers because they are commonly classified as “never events,” meaning that they should never occur in the presence of sound medical care and treatment.
Pressure Ulcers and Staging
The severity of a pressure sore is determined by “staging,” or categorizing the extent of the pressure sore. There are four major stages of a pressure ulcer, which include the following:
- Stage 1 – The first stage is where the sores are not open wounds, but the skin is irritated and reddened or discolored. The skin does not blanch, or briefly lose color after you press and remove your finger. It may be painful and the temperature of the skin is palpably warmer.
- Stage 2 – The second stage is where the skin breaks and forms an ulcer. This extends down into lower layers of skin and can form a blister, swallow crater, or abrasion. This is usually painful and very tender.
- Stage 3 – The third stage is where the sore extends into deeper tissue under the skin. The chance of infection is higher, and some subcutaneous fat may be exposed. This is usually very painful.
- Stage 4 – The fourth stage is excruciatingly painful and is when the sore damages muscle, bone, tendons, ligaments, and other structures that are well-below the skin. Infection is almost guaranteed and the risk of death from the pressure sore, infection, or sepsis is significant.
What Should A Nursing Home Do If My Family Member Is At Risk To Develop A Pressure Ulcer?
Good question! When a nursing home receives a new resident they are required to assess whether that resident is at risk for developing pressure sores. The test is called the Braden Scale. The Braden Scale assessment goes through a series of questions that results in a score. The final score will determine the level or risk the resident is for developing pressure sores. The scoring chart looks like this.
- Very High Risk: Total Score 9 or less
- High Risk: Total Score 10-12
- Moderate Risk: Total Score 13-14
- Mild Risk: Total Score 15-18
- No Risk: Total Score 19-23
The interventions the nursing home implements to prevent pressure sores can be very different for a resident who is at mild risk versus a resident who is at very high risk. Either way, the interventions should be thoroughly spelled out in the resident’s care plan. One of the most common and effective means of preventing bed sores is ensuring that the resident is repositioned at least every two hours. Unfortunately, too many nursing homes fail to make sure residents are repositioned in a timely manner because they don’t have enough staff members available to provide this level of care for their residents, even though they are required by law to have enough staff members to meet the needs of every resident.
As a family member, you trust the nursing home to meet the needs of your loved one and do what they promise they will do, but the stark reality is that many nursing homes put more emphasis on profit than on proper care for the residents.
Did You or a Loved One Suffer a Pressure Ulcer? Ask What is Next?
If you or a loved one suffered a pressure ulcer at a nursing home in St. Louis, Missouri, or anywhere else around the state of Missouri, please call the Terry Law Firm by dialing (314) 334-1441 for a FREE consultation to learn what your rights are and how to protect them. We have 18 years of experience handling cases against the nursing home industry, including cases involving injuries and wrongful death due to pressure sores. If we accept your case, we will perform an investigation into what happened that caused the pressure ulcers in your case and whether we believe there was negligent conduct involved.