Bedsores – known as pressure ulcers – are a common reality in coma patients and nursing homes. People in a vegetative state are the most vulnerable to this condition. Facilities are expected to be diligent in knowing how to prevent bedsores – but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
If left untreated, bedsores can be extremely damaging and potentially fatal.
The good news is these problems are usually preventable. If your loved one has suffered from bedsores, you may be entitled to compensation with the help of a specialized attorney.
In this post, we discuss what bedsores are, the dangers they pose to coma patients, and how to avoid bedsores. Let’s dive into it, shall we?
What Are Bedsores – and Why Are They Dangerous?
Have you ever laid in one position for too long and felt a little sore? This is because your body hasn’t moved and placed constant pressure on a certain area of your body. While this is usually a minor nuisance for a healthy person, it can lead to serious health complications for a coma patient – who cannot shift their weight.
Bedsores form when a bone squeezes up to the skin or tissue against an external surface (like a mattress). While bedsores can occur anywhere on the body, the most common areas are where the bone is close to the skin. This includes the hips, elbows, base of the spine, ankles, knees, heels, etc.
Every bedsore is different – and can vary in terms of severity. Generally, these injuries are characterized by four stages.
Stage 1: Bedsores
These early-stage mild bedsores are the least severe and are rarely fatal. The impacted area may appear dark or purple. If taken care of, stage one bedsores will usually heal quickly.
Stage 2: Bedsores
Stage two bedsores are a bit more visible than stage one. The impacted area will be discolored (usually a dark shade of purple) and may bleed or blister. While still serious, stage two bedsores do not typically have severe consequences if mitigated properly.
Stage 3: Bedsores
This is where bedsores become a severe medical issue. The impacted area may look like a small crater in the body and appear almost black. There is no excuse for a medical facility to allow stage three bedsores to occur in coma patients.
Stage 4: Bedsores
As you could assume, stage four bedsores are the most severe. The victim will have a large wound that involves the skin, tissue, and bone. The impacted area has been suppressed from proper circulation for so long that the risk of infection is high. This can lead to potentially fatal consequences if not mitigated immediately.
Medical facilities should have strict protocols for how to avoid bedsores, as well as take proper action if the early signs are detected. Failing to do so may be ruled as gross negligence or medical malpractice – which may entitle families to compensation.
How Do Bedsores Form in Coma Patients?
Bedsores can occur for several different reasons. Any medical facility that accommodates coma patients should know how to prevent bedsores on a bedridden patient. More importantly, there should be strict processes to eliminate the “simple mistakes” that lead to bedsores. But unfortunately, few facilities are perfect.
Here are the most common ways bedsores occur in coma patients.
Failure to Reposition
Failing to rotate or reposition a patient is arguably the most common mistake that leads to bedsores. Coma patients must be repositioned every couple of hours – sometimes more frequently. This process usually involves shifting the patient to their back or their side. Facilities typically use pillows or foam pads to ensure the patient stays in position after being shifted.
Bedridden patients are prone to poor circulation due to inactivity. Medical facilities must exercise these patients and help move body parts to keep blood moving effectively. Most facilities use physiotherapy several times a week to accomplish this.
Inadequate hygiene on the skin can easily lead to bedsores. Specialists must be very diligent in keeping the skin clean and sanitized. The skin should also be kept dry, as moisture can increase the risk of bedsores.
Bedsore Prevention Beds
Mattresses aren’t always ideal for coma patients – as they don’t always provide uniform pressure. This is why some facilities use waterbeds to reduce pressure points. These are certainly more expensive than traditional mattresses, but they’re extremely beneficial to prevent bedsores.
How to Prevent Bedsores on a Bedridden Patient: The Basics
Knowing how to prevent bedsores is not complicated, but it’s a job that must be done very diligently. Bedsores can develop very quickly, and there must be systems in place to minimize mistakes. Here are a handful of ways facilities can prevent bedsores.
1. Set a Clear Schedule for Repositioning
Repositioning is the most basic and important practice to prevent bedsores. Bedsores can occur within a matter of hours, sometimes less. Facilities should have set schedules – with notifications – to ensure staff is properly shifting coma patients throughout the day.
2. Keep the Skin Dry and Sanitized
Sanitation should be carried out daily. Clean skin is less susceptible to bedsores. This involves regular baths with warm soapy water – then dried properly to eliminate moisture. In addition, bedsheets and diapers must be changed frequently.
3. Use Extra Pillows
As previously discussed, some areas of the body are more vulnerable to bedsores than others. Facilities may place pillows in these areas to add cushioning and reduce pressure. This may help to extend the timelines needed between repositioning.
4. Exercise the Patient for Healthy Circulation
Proper blood circulation is a critical factor in how to prevent bedsores. This may involve massages, moving limbs, and other activities to keep muscle and tissue from weakening.
What To Do If a Loved One Has Suffered from Bedsores
If you have a loved one suffering complications from bedsores, you have options. The first step is to take photos of the bedsores on your loved one. Attributing liability to the facility or caretaker is the most challenging part of the process. Personal injury law for coma patients can get complicated very quickly. Simply put, you need a skilled attorney on your side.
You and your lawyer will need to gather evidence pointing to negligence or medical malpractice that led to the bedsores. With the right approach, you can earn justice for your loved one and recoup damages for medical treatment, pain & suffering, and much more.
The Next Step
Collecting evidence, building a claim, and negotiating with the facility’s insurance company is not a task for a novice. Earning fair compensation requires an expert lawyer with the proper skills.
Here’s some good news: hiring an experienced attorney to manage the injury claim will not cost you a penny out-of-pocket.
These lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the total settlement paid out by the at-fault party after they win. Even better, they are highly motivated to navigate the legal process as efficiently as possible.
Having a loved one in a coma is stressful enough. Dealing with additional complications from bedsores is an avoidable problem you shouldn’t have to deal with. For any questions about how to prevent bedsores, personal injury law, or your next moves, don’t hesitate to reach out to Midwest Injury Lawyers. We’re always happy to answer your questions – even if you don’t have a case.