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Improper Wounds may be Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Improper Wounds may be Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
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Improper Wounds may be Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

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Nursing ExpertImproper wounds include pressure sores, diabetic ulcers, open wounds from a fall, venous and arterial ulcers and other wounds that may result from improper circulation. These sorts of wounds are commonly observed when elderly residents of nursing homes and other aged care residential facilities where poor management or lack of adequate care or training prevail. The discovery of improper wounds that have had no remedial treatment is often the impetus for taking legal action against the owners, managers and staff of these facilities.

Improper wounds are avoidable

Improper wounds are, for the most part, avoidable and unnecessary. The causes of these wounds are well known from a medical point of view. Strategies to prevent and deal with their occurrence have been well documented and are normally part and parcel of staff training programs in properly managed nursing homes and residential care facilities. The fact that they occur at all, and are either unattended, or left to get worse, is a clear sign of negligence.

Pressure sores are the most common improper wounds in U.S. nursing homes

Pressure sores, also called bed sores or pressure ulcers, are the most common improper wounds that afflict residents of such homes. They are caused initially by the lack of sufficient nutrition and oxygen to subsurface skin tissue, usually as a result of poor blood circulation locally where the skin is pressed against the surface of a wheel chair or bed for long periods of time. The incidence of pressure sores is higher amongst elders than younger people because their skin is thinner and more fragile and their circulation is less robust. The constant pressure at a particular point leads to the death of subcutaneous tissue and subsequent decay, leading to an ulcer. If the ulcer is left untreated, it can quickly expand and spread, endangering neighboring skin and bone tissue and the potential for more widespread internal infections. Elders today are often older than they may have been a few decades ago and may have been affected by other adverse factors such as diabetes that make them more liable to develop wounds.

Proper training in a well managed nursing home means careful and regular monitoring of elders or other residents who are at risk. Regular movement of the elder, if he or she has difficulty moving, or at least repositioning to avoid a pressure spot, helps to eliminate the potential for pressure sores developing in the first place. Trained staff should be able to detect early signs of pressure sores, such as bruising, discoloration, and temperature increases as well as discomfort expressed by the elder.

If a pressure sore is not detected early on, more serious symptoms may be experienced. These may include: confusion, weakness, pus oozing from a wound, hot or tender swellings and fever. At this more developed stage, there must be a treatment plan devised to prevent the sore from getting any worse. Generally, elders respond more slowly to treatment and it may take longer for these sorts of improper wounds to heal. A failure to notice or respond to pressure sores that have gone beyond the early stage of development can lead to very serious health consequences and possible fatality caused by the spread of the infection.

Well managed nursing homes have proper treatment plans

Correct and early treatment of pressure sores and other improper wounds can lead to a restoration of good health amongst elderly residents of a nursing home. Bacteria are generally more frequent in a nursing home, so treatment will involve keeping the wound clean and antiseptic as possible to avoid further infections. Sores, when discovered, are classified at stages from stage I to stage IV. Each stage requires a different treatment strategy which may involve hospitalization and surgery at the later stages.

Treatment plans may include the use of antibiotic drugs, specialized bandages, wound vacuums, compression therapy, oxygen therapy, skin grafts and other treatment.

Successful treatment must be followed up by more vigilant monitoring of the treated wound to ensure that it does not get worse.

Nursing home negligence is unfortunately not uncommon across the U.S. and with the numbers of elders needing specialized care on the increase because of the aging population this situation is unlikely to get less any time soon. Legal action against nursing home owners and administrator may be necessary when nursing home negligence has led to the appearance of improper wounds. A licensed nursing home administrator or a wound care nursing expert is often needed to help a nursing home attorney to address the medical implications of nursing home negligence.

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