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The 4 stages of bed sores

You thought your mother was safe and the nursing home was taking great care of her. After all, you did everything you could to research the best nursing home in your area, and your family has paid a lot to ensure your mother receives the best care.

However, the last time you visited your mom, she was complaining of a bad sore on her hip. Upon closer inspection, you realized she may have a bed sore. "Isn't this is a common problem among the victims of nursing home neglect?" you wonder. Indeed, bed sores often result from the neglect of patients by nursing home staff. 

How bad is your mother's bed sore?

Bed sores, pressure sores or pressure ulcers, range from mild discomfort to life-threatening in severity. Generally, doctors categorize them into four stages of severity as follows:

  • Stage 1: At the first stage, a pressure sore is not an open wound. It might be painful, but there aren't any tears or breaks in the skin. The affected area will look reddened or blanched. It will lose its color when you apply pressure and take away your finger. If the individual is darker skinned, it might not be red, but look a different color than the other skin. Also, it could feel softer or firmer than the skin nearby, and the inflammation will cause the sore to feel warm.
  • Stage 2: At the second stage, the skin will break and a visible ulcer will appear. This can be extremely painful and tender. The sore will now go into deeper parts of the skin. It might look like an abrasion or a scrape, a crater in the skin or a blister. It could appear like it's full of clear fluid. The skin could be damaged and dying away at this stage.
  • State 3: At the third stage, the wound gets worse and goes below the skin. It will form a crater and fat will appear in the sore. However, no bones, tendons or muscles will be visible.
  • Stage 4: At the fourth stage, the pressure ulcer gets deep, going into muscle fibers, bone, tissues, tendons, joints and extensive damage will be visible. This is the most acute form of a bed sore.

After the pressure ulcer reaches Stages 3 and 4, there may not be any pain because of such severe damage to the tissues. There is, however, great risk of deadly bone and blood infections. As soon as any signs of bed sores or pressure sores present themselves, it's vital for doctors to treat the condition immediately.

Are bed sores a sign of nursing home neglect?

Although bed sores could develop naturally in many cases, it's possible that your mother's pressure sore is the result of nursing home neglect. If nursing home staff do not take care to protect patients from developing bed sores by moving them and encouraging regular activity, a patient could become too sedentary and at risk of contracting a bed sore. Also, doctors could neglect a patient by not treating a bed sore early enough to prevent complications.

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