This blog has previously discussed some of the potential signs that a Connecticut resident who is living in a nursing home may be neglected or abused. While psychological and financial abuse and exploitation are just as bad, physical abuse or neglect can lead to some dire consequences, and sometimes may be most obvious to notice. One of the possible signs of neglect of abuse in a nursing home is bedsores. But are bedsores really that serious?

The Mayo Clinic sometimes refers to bedsores as “pressure sores,” and categorizes them based upon degrees of seriousness, from stages I to IV. Stage I sores are the least serious, with some discoloration of the skin and some pain for tenderness at the site. Stage IV are the most serious, and in some cases, may contain dead tissue and wounds that penetrate below healthy layers of skin to expose tendons, muscle or even bone. Bed sores are generally caused by sustained pressure on certain spots of the skin, but can also be caused by friction against the skin, or “shear,” in which the skin over a certain area moves in opposite directions, due to certain types of movement undergone by a patient.

Age, poor nutrition, inadequate hydration and poor hygiene can all contribute to the seriousness of bedsores. According to the Mayo Clinic, bedsores pose a risk beyond simple discomfort or pain. Such injuries can create cellulitis, in which skin and soft tissues become infected and inflamed. While often very painful, this can also lead to life-threatening complications. Bedsores can also create the possibility of certain types of squamous cell cancer, or bone and joint damage that reduces the ability to use limbs. Possibly most dangerous effect of bedsores, however, is the potential for sepsis, in which the blood itself becomes infected through the broken skin, which can then spread rapidly and cause the failure of organs throughout the body.

As can be seen, bedsores are not just the cause of localized discomfort. They can be a very serious condition in and of themselves, and can serve as evidence of nursing home abuse or neglect by caregivers. It is important that people who suspect their loved one is suffering from such abuse inform someone who can intervene on behalf of the patient. If a nursing home resident suffers from bedsores, his or her loved ones may want to know if seeking compensation for any injuries that occurred is one way forward.