Cases Involving Decubitus Ulcers (Bedsores/Pressure Ulcers)
Decubitus ulcers (also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers) are the result of continual pressure on soft tissue. These lead to the eventual breakdown of the skin and underlying tissue, muscle and bone. Bedsores usually occur on areas of the body where skin overlays a bony area: hips, back, ankles, heels, and buttocks.
Bedsores can be classified into five stages:
- Stage 1: The skin is not broken, but it is discolored. Depending on your skin tone, the area can appear white, red, blue or purple.
- Stage 2: The skin is open and there are signs of tissue death. The sore is still shallow and appears red or pink, possibly with a fluid-filled blister.
- Stage 3: The sore has become deeper and now is affecting the fatty layers of tissue. It is beginning to look like a crater, possibly with puss.
- Stage 4: Muscle and bone are now affected and eschar (slough or dead tissue) is possible.
- Unstageable: Tissue death is advanced past all four stages. The wound either appears yellow or green and is soft with pus, or it’s brown and covered with a scab.
Medical professionals are trained in how to prevent bedsores, but this injury is frequently overlooked.
The Causes Of Bedsores
Bedsores are usually found on people who are immobile or remain immobile for long periods of time. Groups, particularly at risk, include diabetics, the elderly, people with disabilities or who are paralyzed (partially or fully), and those with fragile skin or who are wheelchair-bound. In these cases, poor health and nutrition, dehydration, soiled clothing or sheets, restricted blood flow (generally as a result of diabetes), age and the inability to move are all contributing factors. Medical negligence is frequently at the root of the problem.
The Prevention And Treatment Of Bedsores
Bedsores can be prevented by monitoring and inspecting patients’ skin regularly. Patients lying down for long periods of time should be repositioned once every two hours. They should also be lying on pressure-relieving mattresses or cushions, and sheets and undergarments should be changed regularly. If circulation is an issue, the skin should be massaged to encourage blood flow.
If bedsores do occur, then antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent further infection, and the area should remain clean and have dressings changed frequently. It will heal as any wound would.