Direct care workers are almost always in high demand across the United States. The physical nature of the work, the long hours, and the low pay cause high turnover rates. This often leaves disabled and elderly patients without the care they need, leading family members to wonder if their loved ones are safe in nursing homes.
Arizona’s Shortage of Caregivers
This problem is growing quickly in Arizona, where the shortage is expected to increase to nearly 130,000 job openings by 2026. When nursing homes and other care facilities do not have enough caregivers, neglect and abuse numbers tend to spike. Care providers must spend less time with each patient, so important tasks may get skipped. As a result, patients may suffer bed sores.
How Bed Sores Happen
Bed sores occur when pressure on the skin restricts blood flow to the skin’s surface. The skin breaks down and dies, leaving an open sore. Patients with limited mobility often experience bed sores because of excess pressure on the spine or tailbone. Other commonly affected areas include shoulder blades, hips, and heels.
Friction and shear are other common causes of bed sores. Friction is especially dangerous to fragile skin. If skin rubs against clothing or bedsheets, bed sores can develop. Caregivers often need to take their time dressing and undressing patients to avoid this issue. Shear happens if skin moves in the opposite direction of something holding it in place. If a patient slides down in their wheelchair and the skin on their back stays in place, it can rip and leave a bed sore.
Effects of Bed Sores
While bed sores are obviously painful and uncomfortable, the possible risks go far beyond that. In an extreme case, a New York man developed bed sores after living in a nursing home for stroke rehabilitation. Two weeks later, he died from a heart attack caused by sepsis. The bed sores left plenty of ways for infection to enter his body and take his life.
Other complications of bed sores include cellulitis, bone infections, joint infections, and even cancer. A bed sore that doesn’t heal can turn into squamous cell carcinoma.
What to Do If Your One Experiences Bed Sores at a Phoenix Nursing Home
If you notice that your loved one appears to be in pain or discomfort when you visit their assisted living facility, bed sores could be the culprit. Check their positioning to see if there is too much pressure on a joint or bone. If you see bed sores, your loved one could be the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect. Working with an attorney can help you protect your loved one, find a new facility for them, and ensure that the neglectful facility is held responsible for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and rehabilitative treatment.
Protect Your Loved Ones from Bed Sores
Bed sores are a major sign of nursing home neglect. If your loved one is being victimized, it’s up to you to advocate for them. Call the nursing home neglect attorneys at Miller Kory Rowe, LLP at (602) 461-8640 to schedule a consultation at our Phoenix office.