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What is a bed sore, and when is it a sign of neglect?


There are many types of neglect that can occur in a nursing home setting, but one of the easiest to prevent and oftentimes visually unsettling forms of neglect comes in the form of bed or pressure sores. A bed sore is an injury that can affect everything from the skin to the bone of a person. Bed sores occur when there is constant pressure applied to an area of the body which not only bruises the skin, can also but lower or cut off blood circulation.

Bed sores are mostly seen in individuals who must remain immobile for extended amounts of time, such as those who use wheelchairs or are bed-bound. However, bed sores can also occur in elderly people who are not properly cared for in hospitals and nursing facilities. A bed sore can be a sign of neglect, as the sores do not develop overnight and can usually be traced back to improper care by a nursing facility. If an individual enters a nursing home or hospital with bed sores, it is the duty of the staff at the facility to treat the bed sores and ensure they do not get worse. There are four stages of bed sores, each requiring extensive treatment.

The first stage of a bedsore changes the color, feel, and temperature of the skin. As the ulcer develops, the skin tone will change and the sensation of pain or itching will increase. During stages two and three, the individual's skin is lost and the soft underneath starts to decay and die. At these stages, the wound will start to appear as a crater and it may be black around the edges. At stage four, the damage will extend to the muscle exposing the bone.

The best treatment of bedsores is prevention. Treating a bedsore once it has developed is a lengthy and costly process. Those who are living in a nursing home or assisted living facility should not have to be victims of neglect.

Source: Georgia Department of Human Services - Division of Aging Services, "Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of At-Risk Adults in Georgia," accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

Source: Georgia Department of Human Services - Division of Aging Services, "Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of At-Risk Adults in Georgia," accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

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