Are bed sores indicators of nursing home neglect?

Nursing homes provide a valuable service. However, it is natural to have concerns about the well-being of already vulnerable loved ones who reside in them.

Recent horror tales of poor conditions, extreme neglect and horrific abuse trickling into the news and through them to the public have brought to the forefront worries about the treatment of loved ones in nursing homes. It can be difficult for those who have limited time and/or live a distance away to keep a constant watch on loved ones. It is therefore even more important for them to be able to recognize potential signs of neglect like bed sores.

What causes bed sores?

Bed sores are also called pressure ulcers and result from pressure applied to an area for extended periods cutting off the blood flow. Bedridden and immobile individuals are more at risk to develop them because they cannot move to relieve the pressure of lying down on certain body parts. They may also develop because of friction over bony areas like elbows.

Besides pain, individuals with bed sores that go untreated for too long may develop other health complications. These include infection, gangrene, sepsis and cancer.

Do bed sores indicate neglect?

While they do not always mean something is wrong, they often do. Caretakers can prevent bed sores by rotating the positions of their immobile charges. Simply in the process of ensuring they are clean and checking their health, they need to move them around.

Bed sores often develop in places not immediately visible like the tailbone, buttocks, hips and lower back. It is important to check these spots, especially if there are other signs of neglect, like unchanged clothes and dirty bed linens.

Nursing home neglect may manifest in various ways, including bed sores. If there is reason to suspect there is neglect, it is important to investigate further.


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