Stages of Bed Sores in a Nursing Home

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As many as 11% of nursing residents suffer from bed sores. (CDC). Also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bed sores are a serious medical condition. They occur when there is too much pressure on the skin.

If left in the same position without movement for too long, a person may suffer from bed sores. Bed sores can potentially decrease the quality of life for a nursing home resident, causing physical and emotional suffering.

Stages of Bed Sores

Treatment and potential complications vary based on the severity of the wounds. Bed sores are classified into stages based on their severity. Stage 1 is the least severe, while stage 4 is the most serious.

Stage 1

  • Mild redness or discoloration
  • A different feeling than other skin nearby
  • Different appearance than adjacent skin
  • Discoloration that remains for more than 30 minutes after pressure on the spot has been relieved
  • Skin that does not turn white when pressed on (a sign of abnormal blood flow)

Stage 2

  • Appear as a blister or open sore
  • Lower layers of skin are visible
  • The skin may be broken, but not completely broken
  • Pus, seeping fluid
  • Additional redness or discoloration

Stage 3

  • A deep sore that penetrates all the layers of skin
  • Exposed fat tissue
  • Tissue may appear blackened with red edges
  • Odor
  • Pus and redness
  • Fever and other signs of infection, elevated risk of infection
  • The base of the bed sore may not be visible because of dead tissue and scabs

Stage 4

  • Life-threatening infection
  • An open sore that penetrates to the muscles, bones, or other internal flesh
  • High pain
  • Loss of tissue
  • A black appearance with red edges and pus, swelling
  • Fever
  • A hot feeling to the skin

Treatment for bed sores

In the early stages, a bed sore can be treated with simple changes. The person should be moved so that there is no pressure on the spot. At stage 1, any additional contributing factors should be corrected, like dehydration or friction.

While stage 2 bed sores are still treatable, the chances of complications increase from stage 1. Wounds should be cleaned, dried, and monitored. The injured person should be moved regularly to allow sores to heal. At stage 2, properly treated sores may heal in a few weeks.

Stage 3 bed sores often take months to heal. If untreated, they can be seriously threatening to a person’s health. Nursing home residents with serious medical conditions that limit movement or circulation are most at risk for developing severe bed sores. Antibiotics may be appropriate at stage 3. Surgery may hasten the removal of dead tissue.

Stage 4 bed sores require aggressive treatment. Dead and infected tissue should be removed, and skin grafts may assist in healing. Antibiotics may treat the infection. Aggressive monitoring is necessary with wound dressing and repositioning to ease pressure and prevent new sores from developing. The patient’s overall health should be addressed with adequate food and water.

Where are bed sores most likely to occur on the body?

Bed sores are most likely to occur on parts of the body that have the most contact with a bed or chair, like the shoulders, back of the head, and buttocks. They are also common in places where bones protrude, like the elbows and knees. They may appear on the feet, including the ankles, heels, and toes.

Can you sue for bed sores in a nursing home?

If you or a loved one has suffered from bed sores in a nursing home, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit. Bed sores are often preventable – they may result from the person receiving too little attention and movement in the care facility. Understaffing and inadequate training may contribute to the negligence that causes bed sores.

A person who lives in a nursing home has the right to expect reasonable care. The development of a bed sore may result from negligence or medical malpractice. When poor treatment by the care facility results in a bed sore, compensation for medical care, emotional anguish, and pain and suffering may be available to the victim.

Greenville Lawyer for Nursing Home Bed Sore Claims

You may have a legal claim if you or a loved one has contracted bed sores from living in a nursing home. Bobby Jones can help. Contact us today to see how our team can help you with your nursing home bed sore claim.


Mayo Clinic, Bed sores (pressure ulcers)

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bed sores

NHS, Pressure ulcers (pressure sores)

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