Stage 1 Bedsores
If a person develops a bedsore (also known as a pressure sore), a physician will categorize the sore into one of four stages. These stages are organized from least severe to most severe. Identifying the stage of the bedsore can help a doctor determine its progress and development and create the most appropriate treatment plan for the patient. A stage 1 bedsore is the most mild category and can often be treated with simple medical care.
What Does a Stage 1 Pressure Sore Look Like?
A stage 1 bedsore is a pressure ulcer at its earliest and least severe stage. It can develop if someone has been in one position for too long without moving or being repositioned, such as during bedrest to recover from an injury, or someone who uses a wheelchair due to a disability. Pressure on one part of the body for too long can reduce the flow of blood to that area. Since cells and tissues need the oxygen in blood to survive, this can create an ulcer.
Stage 1 bedsores do not break the skin. However, they can be identified by the following signs:
- A spot of skin that looks or feels different from surrounding skin.
- Red or discolored skin. On darker skin, skin that appears purple or blue.
- Skin that does not turn white when pressed on (for lighter skin tones).
- Skin that feels harder or softer than surrounding skin.
- Skin that feels too warm or too cold.
Look for these signs of a bedsore in areas that are normally vulnerable to pressure ulcers, such as places where the patient’s skin meets a bed or wheelchair. The places that are most susceptible to bedsores include the back of the head, the shoulder blades, the lower back, the tailbone, the buttocks, the backs of the elbows, the hips, the backs of the knees, the ankles and the heels. If the patient has the ability to answer questions, ask if he or she notices any pain, itching or irritation anywhere on the body. These are also signs of a pressure sore.
How Do You Treat a Stage 1 Bedsore?
Bedsores and ulcers at any stage must be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. Prompt medical care can relieve the patient’s discomfort and pain, as well as prevent the bedsore from progressing to more severe stages. When treated promptly and correctly, a stage 1 bedsore can be prevented from turning into a stage 2 bedsore. Treatment for a stage 1 bedsore generally includes:
- Repositioning the patient to relieve pressure from the affected area.
- Using exercises or physical therapy to restore blood flow and normal circulation to the area.
- Propping up the affected part of the body with a pillow.
- Using special bedding or mattresses that place less pressure on the patient’s body.
- Gently washing the bedsore with mild soap and water, then drying the area thoroughly.
- Monitoring the patient and repositioning him or her frequently to prevent the development of new ulcers.
- Improving the patient’s nutrition and fluid intake, if necessary.
Typically, once the pressure from the area is relieved, a stage 1 bedsore heals on its own within a few days. If left untreated, however, the tissues can continue to sustain damage or die until the sore breaks the skin. At this point, the patient could be at risk of infections and other health complications from a stage 2 to 4 bedsore. Open wounds put the injury victim at higher risk of serious harm and should be taken very seriously.
How Long Does a Stage 1 Bedsore Take to Heal?
A few days, in most cases. When caught and treated at the earliest stage, a bedsore or pressure injury should not take longer than a few days or a week at most to completely heal. Keeping the area clean, watchingfor signs of infection, and beginning wound care as necessary can help your loved one recover. If a nurse or caretaker who is monitoring a patient notices that a stage 1 pressure sore is getting worse or staying the same after the patient receives proper medical care, the patient should see a doctor right away. He or she may need additional treatment from a skilled health care provider or a change in diet to resolve the issue.
How Do You Stop Bedsores From Growing?
You can prevent bedsores or pressure injuries from developing in the first place by avoiding prolonged pressure on a specific area of the body. This will eliminate the cause of the sore. Other factors that increase the risk of developing bedsores are malnourishment, dehydration, damp skin and friction. The elderly are at an increased risk of bedsores, as they have more fragile skin and are generally less physically active.
Keeping a patient at a hospital or nursing home resident properly nourished and hydrated can protect the skin and make it more resistant to injury. Damp or wet skin, such as from an unchanged adult diaper, can compromise the tissues and make them more prone to sores. This is why proper care is necessary. Avoiding friction with bedsheets and other surfaces can also prevent the tearing of skin and related bedsores.
If your loved one already has a bedsore, preventing it from growing in size or severity requires moving or repositioning the individual regularly – several times a day – to prevent a buildup of pressure on the area. Assisting a patient with constant movement can help prevent a bedsore from growing. Continued pressure on already-damaged tissues can lead to a stage 2 or more severe bedsore.
Are Bedsores Due to Neglect?
Bedsores can be caused by neglect. In a nursing home setting, for example, resident neglect or abuse can lead to malnourished, dehydrated or ignored senior citizens who are not properly repositioned or exercised according to a schedule. They may be more vulnerable to developing bedsores due to improper care. If a reasonable and prudent caregiver or individual would have done something differently to prevent the bedsore, such as paying more attention to the patient, it constitutes neglect. Nursing home abuse is always unacceptable, and a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can help you assess your options and take legal action as needed.
Can You File a Lawsuit for a Stage 1 Bedsore?
It is possible to file a lawsuit for a bedsore in California; however, it may not be worth the effort for a stage 1 bedsore. The amount of time and money that goes into filing a lawsuit may not be worth the financial compensation available for a stage 1 bedsore, which generally does not require expensive medical treatments or take a significant toll on the victim’s life.
If the stage 1 bedsore progresses to a more severe stage, on the other hand, the victim or his or her family should contact a Los Angeles elder abuse lawyer to discuss a possible lawsuit against a nursing home, hospital or another party for neglect. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and choose the most appropriate course of action for you.