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Bedsores can cause serious complications

Family members of Maryland nursing home residents should be aware of and vigilant in identifying the signs of bedsores. If discovered, family members should report bedsores to the resident’s health care provider(s) so that treatment can take place.

Also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, bedsores result from fragile skin tearing under pressure from the weight of the body. Left untreated, bedsores can become deeper and deeper, sometimes affecting the tissue underneath.

The deeper the damage penetrates into the tissues underneath the skin, the more severe the bedsore is. A severe pressure ulcer can lead to serious complications that are sometimes life-threatening. According to Johns Hopkins, sepsis is probably the most serious potential complication. Tearing of the skin compromises the body’s defenses, potentially allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream, where it can cause infection.

The Mayo Clinic describes other infections that can result from bedsores, which include the following:

  • Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
  • Septic arthritis (joint infection)
  • Cellulitis (skin/connective tissue infection)

Marjolin’s ulcers are a specific type of nonhealing, long-lasting bedsore. Over time, they can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of cancer.

A patient with a bedsore infection may have a fever. Additionally, the wound itself may demonstrate the following signs:

  • Swelling
  • Increased warmth or redness
  • Bad smell
  • Drainage from the wound

Symptoms of an infected pressure ulcer warrant immediate medical attention. In addition, if a patient experiences warning signs of bedsores, the most prudent course of action is to relieve the pressure with a change of position, to reduce friction by applying lubrication or cushioning and to perform a daily inspection of the skin to identify any worrisome symptoms.