Bedsores go by many other names, including decubitus ulcers and pressure injuries. There are several factors that can contribute to the formation of bedsores, including fragile skin, reduced sensation and prolonged immobility.

If you have an elderly loved one who is a resident in a nursing home and who has bedsores, they are not proof of negligence per se. However, decubitus ulcers, especially advanced injuries, are evidence that your loved one may not be receiving adequate care.

Causes of bedsores

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, bedsores occur most often on the parts of the body that bear the most weight when lying down:

  • Back of the head
  • Heels
  • Shoulders
  • Buttocks

They result from pressure on the skin that cuts off blood circulation for two to three hours or more. Nursing home staff have a responsibility to turn and re-position bedridden residents frequently to allow blood to circulate and prevent bedsores from forming.

Staging of bedsores

Bedsore staging refers to its severity. A stage 1 decubitus ulcer, which is the least severe, causes itching or burning pain, is warm to the touch and is red or purple in color, but the skin has not yet broken open. Intervention for a stage 1 pressure injury can prevent it from becoming more severe.

Stage 2 bedsores cause significant pain, discoloration of the skin and a blister or open sore. Damage to the skin from a stage 3 decubitus ulcer causes it to look like a crater. Stage 4 pressure injuries can extend down into the underlying tissues and put your loved one at risk of infection.

Significance of bedsores

Even as a layperson, you can get a general idea of the severity of a decubitus ulcer just by looking at it. If bedsores are prolific or advanced, it suggests that nursing home staff have not done enough to prevent or treat them.