Massachusetts Nursing Home Neglect: Pressure Ulcers – Part Two of Two

In my previous post on this topic, I discussed what pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers (all the same thing) are, and why they develop. These types of rehabilitation facility and nursing home injuries fall into four basic categories:

Stage 1: This type is the least damaging. These sores only affect the upper layer of the skin. It may appear red or feel warm to the touch. If re-positioned, the sore may disappear within 2 or 3 days.

Stage 2: This occurs when the sore digs deeper beneath the surface of the skin. The skin is broken, leaving an open wound that may ooze pus or develop a blister. It’s painful. Again, re-positioning is critical, but the wound first needs to be cleaned with sterilized water or a salt-water solution and dressed with sterile gauze. Improvement should be seen within a week to ten days.

Stage 3: These sores have penetrated through the second layer of skin, into fatty tissue. The ulcer will look like a crater and may emit a foul odor (this is the smell of necrotizing, or decomposing, tissue.) Drainage will be prominent. A physician will be needed to remove dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics.

Stage 4: These ulcers are the most worst and the most dangerous. The ulcer has become every large and is sickening to look at. The wound is deep; the skin has turned black; It may even be possible to see tendons, even muscles and possibly bone. Hospitalization and surgery will likely be necessary.

How can you Protect Your Loved One? Constantly inspect the most common sites of pressure sores, which are as follows:

For patients frequently in a wheelchair, regularly inspect the following sites:

  • Tailbone (coccyx), or buttocks

  • The spine and shoulder blades

  • The backs of arms and legs where they press against the chair

For patients confined to a bed, regularly inspect the following sites:

  • Back or sides of the head

  • The hips, the lower back and both sides of the knees

  • The elbows, heels, ankles and shins

Most family members and loved ones who witness this awful result of nursing home neglect, feel helplessness and terrible stress – understandably so.  You will feel like your loved one is away from you (true); Being neglected by strangers (very likely true).  It is a sickening feeling that is beyond words.  As a Massachusetts nursing home neglect attorney, I’ve seen this too many times to speak of.  Right now, here are some tips to deal with this situation immediately, if your loved one is exhibiting pressure sores or pressure ulcers.  Immediately after taking these steps, you should consult with an experienced Massachusetts nursing home neglect law firm, to learn how such a firm can help you bring this situation to a halt right away – but for the immediate, follow these initial steps:

 Tip: Examine your loved one’s bedding and sheets. Have they been changed recently? Do they have any stains on them? Is there a chart next to your loved one’s bed or wheelchair, listing when they have been last re-positioned, and by which staffer? Is the chart signed by that (those) staff member(s)?

Tip: Let the nursing facility – and the Director of Nursing – know that you are keeping a Watchful Eye on your loved one. You can do this by supplementing the floor chart for your loved one, with your own chart: Create columns for “Date”, “Name of Person Visiting”, “Mr./Ms. _____________’s Condition”; “Staff Member Complained To”; “Action Promised”, and “Corrective Action Taken”. Individualized, family-created charts like this, which are kept religiously next to your loved one’s bed, will make it crystal clear to both the floor staff and upper management, that you are watching your loved one – and the staff and management – very carefully.

Tip: Don’t visit your loved one at regular, predictable days and times: Shake it up, so that the staff never knows when you’re coming. If they know that you always show up at, say Monday evenings at 7:00 PM, they’ll be sure to cover-up any substandard care or neglect, just before that day and time – -all to lull you into a false sense of security that your loved one really is being taken care of well. Don’t believe that, automatically. In my 25 years of representing victims of Massachusetts nursing home neglect and abuse, I advise you: Be skeptical and watchful.

Our office considers the neglect of the weak and the old to be exactly what it is:  Abhorrent. We don’t tolerate one iota of it. And we get individualized, superior results for our clients. If you feel that your family member, or someone that you care about, is or has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact us. We’d be glad to sit down with you and discuss your concerns, in a free initial consult.