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Bedsores: What they are and why they could indicate malpractice

When those you love are in nursing homes or hospitals for long periods of time, one of the things to look out for is the development of bedsores. Known medically as decubitus ulcers, these sores can become infected all the way to the bone, becoming potentially life-threatening.

How do bedsores form?

It's common for bedsores to form if a person is not moving around on his own. For example, someone in a wheelchair who can't feel his or her legs may not think to shift his or her body. The constant pressure on the lower region could result in a bedsore. Normally, people shift around all the time, even when asleep. Being completely immobilized, even if it's for as short as 12 hours, could result in bedsores due to consistent pressure cutting off oxygen and blood from the skin and tissues in that area of the body.

Two other possible causes include shear and friction. Friction, when the skin is pulled or rubbed, can result in a skin wound due to the skin's fragile nature. Shearing is when the bone goes one way and the skin goes the other; for example, if a person shifts from a bed to a wheelchair, the skin could shear as they are moved.

Which parts of the body are most at risk for bedsores?

It's most common to see the tailbone, heels and buttocks with pressure sores. Other areas that may present with sores include the shoulder blades and spine and the back of the legs and arms where they press against wheelchairs or railings.

It's important to look over any elderly or disabled family member if there are concerns of ulcers forming. Facilities that allow them to form may be negligent and could be sued in a medical malpractice case.

Source: A Place for Mom, "Bedsores: Risk Factors & Prevention," Jeannette Franks, accessed Aug. 24, 2016

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