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Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers

Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers

Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers, also known as Decubitus Ulcers, Bedsores, Pressure Sores, and Pressure Injuries, are a very serious medical condition that can result in significant injury or death when left untreated.

Being aware of stages of pressure ulcers and how they develop is the best way to protect yourself from negligent nursing and assisted living facilities.

Today, we’ll go into depth about what Pressure Ulcers are, what causes them, how they’re treated, and what you can do if your loved one has developed ulcers resulting from abuse at a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Have you or a loved one developed Stage 3 or Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers at a long-term care facility? The Peck Law Group, APC has over 52 years of combined experience in fighting for victims of abuse and neglect at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Time is of the essence in these types of cases. Speak with an Peck Law Group Attorney today for your free case evaluation.

Understanding Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers are areas of injured skin where prolonged contact with surfaces has stopped the blood flow to certain parts of skin and tissue.

While anyone can develop Pressure Sores, people with mobility issues are at the highest risk for developing them, especially when in the care of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

To better understand Stage 4 pressure ulcers, you’ll first need to know where they come from. There are three major causes of these sores: friction, pressure, and shear.

  • Friction: Friction refers to certain areas of skin being pulled or dragged against a surface. In a nursing home setting, friction-induced pressure sores usually result from nursing home staff improperly moving a patient from place to place, such as from a bed to a wheelchair. Properly trained personnel should be careful to lift patients rather than dragging or pulling them to reduce the risk of developing pressure ulcers.
  • Pressure: When a nursing home resident is left in one position for too long, they are put at major risk for developing bed sores. What’s even more concerning is that it doesn’t take long for these wounds to develop; in certain conditions, they can manifest in as little as a few hours. The primary way that nursing homes usually prevent this is by implementing a strict repositioning schedule where at-risk patients are moved around at least every two hours, at a minimum.
  • Shear: Shear happens when the skin is pulled in one direction while the underlying tissue stays in the same place. This can happen to care facility residents while they’re sleeping if they slide down the bed in their slumber. To prevent this, trained staff should keep residents elevated at a 30-degree angle and special care should be taken to ensure patients don’t shift throughout the night.

Another important thing to note about Pressure Ulcers is where they typically occur.

These sores are most prevalent in bony areas such as the Coccyx, feet, elbows and hips. Consequently, patients who have trouble keeping on weight or are becoming frail due to sickness or old age are particularly at risk of developing the Bedsores.

Diagram of where Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers appear on the body.

One way that nursing homes help combat the risk of Bedsore development is by offering healthy, nutritious meals to help residents maintain a healthy weight. However, contributing factors such as loss of appetite and dementia can make it tough for nurses to help their patients keep the weight on.

Even though Bedsore and Pressure Ulcer risk factors can be mitigated, some nursing homes fail to uphold their duties to their residents.

Lack of adequate staffing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities often leads to neglect and negligent care, which leaves nursing home staff with less time available to perform their job duties to prevent the formation of Bedsores.

Skipping just one or two repositioning’s will result in the onset of bed sores. When left undetected or untreated, these wounds can quickly progress, eventually becoming life-threatening.

Unfortunately, many nursing homes across the country still opt to ignore the necessities of their residents, which has caused tens of thousands of residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have experienced Bedsores, Decubitus Ulcers, and significant pressure injury.

The Four Stages of Pressure Ulcers

When Pressure Ulcers are caught and treated in the early stages, discomfort is minimal and recovery time is short. However, when left to progress, the condition can turn life-threatening in as little as a few days to weeks.

The first stage of Bedsores is called Stage 1. During this stage, Bedsores begin to develop on the skin, which turns areas red or purple.

Next, in Stage 2, the area may develop blisters, become more tender to the touch, and more apt to become infected.

Stage 3 happens when the surface sore begins to tunnel into underlying tissue but has not hit the muscle or bone yet.

Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers represent the most severe phase of the disease. By the time the sores reach this intensity, the wound has tunneled deep into the body, and can even go straight to the bone. At this point, the ulcer has been left without treatment for so long that extensive damage has resulted.

The presence of Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers indicates that damage to bone, tendons, and joints might be present and may have become infected.

You might even be surprised to learn that some residents at this stage may not experience any pain due to the nerve damage caused. However, that doesn’t mean that emergency medical attention isn’t needed.

Due to the severity of Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers, serious and catastrophic complications are a significant possibility. Infection of the bone, called osteomyelitis, or blood infection, called sepsis, are two examples of serious health threats to people with Stage 4 Pressure Ulcers.

Diagram showing Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 Pressure Sores

If your loved one has been subjected to poor care conditions that resulted in Stage 3 or Stage 4 Pressure Sores, help is available. With the knowledge and experience of a nursing home abuse attorney at the Peck Law Group, you can get your family the justice you deserve. Call toll free 866-999-9085 today and hold the care facility accountable.

Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer Treatment 

The most shocking thing about the United States Bedsore problem is that the disease is 100% preventable. With proper patient care and a strict protocol, nursing homes should never have a problem with pressure ulcers in their facility. 

The good news is that if your loved one is dealing with Bed Sores, treatment is available. The bad news is that if you wait too long to seek help, they may never get relief from the ailment.

As you might expect, the first step in treatment is removing pressure from the afflicted areas.

Then, special dressings and sometimes even topical medications are applied to the sores to help them heal and to protect them from infection. As a part of the treatment plan, these dressings are kept clean and rotated frequently to decrease the risk of infection.

Cleaning of Pressure Ulcers

If the Bed Sores are severe enough, wound cleaning, also called debridement, might be necessary. During this procedure, a doctor must surgically go in to remove existing dead tissue from the wound. While this procedure is not usually painful, it does increase a patient’s recovery time and can cause stress and anxiety.

Following debridement, skin grafts might be necessary to encourage the affected sites to heal. This process involves removing healthy skin from another part of a patient’s body and transplanting it into the areas ridden by Pressure Ulcers. Luckily, patients are usually under anesthesia during the operation, so it’s not painful, but can take 5 to 14 days to heal, depending on the severity.

Though these treatment options are available, not every patient is an ideal candidate for the operations. Nursing home residents who are especially elderly or frail might have co-morbidities that make it very dangerous for them to go under general anesthesia, for example. 

Take Action Against Nursing Home and Assisted Living Neglect Today

If your family is dealing with Bedsores resulting from nursing home and assisted living neglect, you need to take action immediately. Don’t wait for the medical bills to stack up or for a more serious condition to occur due to the nursing home’s negligence.

Remember: the sooner you start the process of holding the facility accountable for your Stage 4 Pressure Ulcer(s), the better.

Speak with an experienced attorney at the Peck Law Group today and start the process of getting your family the justice and compensation you deserve. Call toll-free 866-999-9085 or fill out our free case evaluation form.

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorney Steven Peck

About the Author

Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.

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