Bedsores – Frequently Asked Questions (Part I)

The New York (NYC) Bedsore Attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan have extensive experience representing individuals who have developed bedsores (pressure sores, pressure ulcers, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) due to the neglect of hospital or nursing home personnel. The following is the first of a series of posts that will address questions we often receive from our clients regarding bedsores.

1) What is a bedsore (pressure sore, pressure ulcer, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer)?

The terms bedsore, pressure sore, pressure ulcer, and decubitus ulcer are often used interchangeably. What they refer to are areas of damaged skin and tissue that develop as a result of sustained pressure on certain parts of the body. In most instances, such sores develop on the bony prominences of the body, including the sacrum, buttocks, elbows, heels, shoulder blades and hips. The sustained pressure on the affected area disrupts blood flow causing the tissue to die.

2) What are the stages of bedsores?

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel has defined the stages. A brief explanation of each stage is below.

Stage I. An area of persistent red skin that may be itchy or painful to touch. Stage I ulcers will, in most circumstances, heal once pressure is relieved.

Stage II. The wound has broken the skin. It is now an open sore that looks similar to a blister.

Stage III. The wound has progressed down to the tissue beneath the skin. The sore may look like a crater.

Stage IV. In a Stage IV pressure sore, the damage has progressed though the skin and tissue to the underlying muscle, bone, tendons and/or joints.

3) What causes bedsores?

a) Sustained pressure b) Friction c) Shearing
4) Are bedsores preventable?

The short answer is that bedsores caused by sustained pressure on an area of the body are preventable. However, certain underlying conditions make people more susceptible to developing bedsores. These conditions include vascular disease, anemia, diabetes, paralysis, cancer, and spinal cord injuries. We would and do argue that if these underlying conditions are present, the hospital and/or nursing facility is obligated to ensure that they are vigilant in trying to prevent bedsores. In addition, simply because an individual is more susceptible to bedsores does not make their development excusable.

That said, there is also a condition called a venous or stasis ulcer that is not caused by sustained pressure. They are usually smaller ulcers that develop when veins fail to properly send blood back to the heart. This results in the blood flowing backward and collecting in a pool in the legs. The pooling of blood causes the skin ulcer. In most instances, these ulcers are more difficult to prevent and/or treat.

As always, the attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan are available to answer any questions you may have about bedsores or any other form of nursing home or hospital neglect. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Website Resources:

Mayo Clinic – Bedsores (Pressure sores)

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