Nursing homes must hold themselves to a high standard of care when it comes to residents. For people who are bedridden or largely immobile, the prevention and maintenance of bedsores is an ongoing concern. Even a seemingly minor bedsore can develop into a serious health issue, including the loss of a limb or even loss of life.
Causes of bedsores
While all bedsores are caused by continuous pressure on the skin, certain factors increase the risk of one developing. People who are not getting enough nutrients and hydration during the day are more likely to develop bedsores. People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, are also at a higher risk due to decreased blood flow. This makes it harder for wounds to heal after they have developed, which can then lead to infections. Immobility due to injury or illness or even obesity also increases bedsore risk.
Bedsores may be minor at first, appearing as a slight discoloration or swelling on the skin. As they develop more serious complications will occur. If an infection goes deep enough it can impact the joints and bones. A person may also develop cellulitis, which is an infection of the skin that causes swelling. Chronic wounds are also associated with squamous cell carcinoma, which is a form of skin cancer.
Treatment & preventions
Nursing home staff can stop immobile residents from developing bedsores by repositioning their bodies once every hour or so. Bedding and clothing should be changed on a regular basis, and the patient’s skin must be kept clean and dry at all times. Once a sore has already developed, it should be cleaned and dressed to prevent further contact until it has healed. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to control infection. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged tissue.