A bed sore (also known as a pressure sore) is a lesion that develops on both the outer surface of the skin and on its underlying tissues. It is mostly commonly due to a prolonged amount of pressure applied to the skin usually over a bony prominence.
As a result, when skin and the tissues underneath are compressed over a bone for an extended period from hours to days, blood supply can be cut off, leading to the development of a bed sore.
Patients in nursing homes and health care facilities are often subjected to bed sores, as they are usually limited in their range of motion and spend a majority of the day lying or sitting. If a facility or provider fails to provide a patient with proper care, resulting in one or multiple bed sores, they may be liable under a medical malpractice claim.
Bed sores can result from lying or sitting in one position for an extended period of time. This is because prolonged pressure from lying or sitting eventually cuts off the blood supply to tissues that are compressed between a bony area and a mattress, chair, or other object. Without this normal blood flow, the tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients and starts to die.
Along with prolonged pressure to an area of the body, bed sores can also result from such factors as:
- Poor nutrition
Bed sores can range from mild skin irritation, where the skin develops red, swollen patches, to severe, blistering sores. In most cases, individuals will experience a discoloration of skin over the bony area that has been affected. Such symptoms as pain and itching may also be present.
If an individual suspects that they have a bed sore, they should take action to try and relieve the pressure from the affected area. If the area remains red and swollen for at least 30 minutes after the pressure has been removed, the skin will likely break down and start to blister.
At this stage, treatment is recommended to heal the wound and prevent future pressure sores. If the wound is not properly treated for in a timely manner, it can deepen and extend through fat and muscle to the bone. It can later become infected and potentially progress to gangrene.
To treat a sever bed sore, a doctor may surgically remove the dead tissue and use skin grafts to repair the wound (if it was deep). In some situations, electrotherapy may be used to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. To help prevent future bed sores from forming, a nurse or care provider should change the position of the patient at least every two hours, keep the patient clean and provide the patient with vitamins and supplements for good nutrition.