Stage 4 Bedsores
A bedsore is an ulcer that forms when pressure is placed against an area of the body for too long, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to the point of damaging the tissues. If left untreated, a bedsore can worsen until it reaches the most severe classification: stage 4. A stage 4 bedsore is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If your loved one is diagnosed with a stage 4 bedsore, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against his or her caretaker – including a nursing home in Los Angeles.
What Does a Stage 4 Bedsore Look Like?
Bedsores are classified into four stages, where stage 1 is the least severe and stage 4 is the most severe. Doctors classify bedsores based on the depth of the injury, meaning how deeply it caused damage within the body’s tissues. Stage 1 and 2 bedsores only affect the top two layers of skin – the epidermis and the dermis. Stage 3 bedsores impact the next level, the layer of fat. Stage 4 bedsores extend deeper, into the muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bones.
A patient with a stage 4 bedsore could exhibit the following symptoms:
- A deep, reddish crater in the skin
- Muscle or bone visible at the bottom of the sore
- Black or yellowish tissue surrounding the sore (dead tissue)
- Extreme pain experienced by the victim
- A foul smell (if infected)
- Pus or liquid oozing from the sore
A stage 4 bedsore causes the most severe tissue damage and tissue loss. It is the largest and deepest of all bedsore classifications. With a pressure ulcer that has developed this far, the blood loss to the area is so severe that the surrounding skin has died and formed a deep wound. It is essentially a hole or tunnel through all layers of skin, putting the patient at a significant risk of infection.
Can You Prevent a Stage 4 Bedsore?
Stage 4 bedsores are almost always preventable. Well-known risk factors cause pressure ulcers. Any person or institution in charge of caring for someone who has these risk factors has a responsibility to actively prevent bedsores. The failure to do so is negligence. Those who are at the highest risk of developing bedsores are:
- The elderly (those 65 and older)
- Anyone who is immobile for extended periods of time
- People with chronic illnesses
- Those with decreased sensation or paralysis
- Those who are dehydrated or malnourished
- Someone with damp skin or soiled underclothes
- Someone in an altered mental state
- Victims of elder abuse or neglect
Preventing bedsores is possible with the right proactive measures. Caregivers should regularly move or reposition anyone with mobility issues to prevent a buildup of pressure on one area of the body. They can also use special bedding and mattresses to prevent pressure and reduce friction against the skin. Anyone who is at risk of developing a bedsore should be carefully monitored for early signs of a problem. Early detection can prevent a stage 1 bedsore that is easily treated from becoming a deadly stage 4 ulcer.
How Do You Treat a Stage 4 Bedsore?
It is possible to recover from a stage 4 bedsore. Although prevention is always better than cure, if it is too late to prevent a severe pressure ulcer, it is critical to get the patient immediate medical care by a professional. Stage 4 bedsores often require surgeries to treat and repair the area. Common treatments include:
- Wound debridement (sometimes surgical) to clean it of dead and damaged tissue
- Negative pressure therapy
- Antibiotics to treat infections
- Skin graft surgeries to cover the area with healthy skin
- Antimicrobial moist dressing applied to the wound
- Proper nutrition and hydration to facilitate healing
It can take a long time for a patient to heal from a stage 4 bedsore. This is a serious injury that can take anywhere from a few months to many years for a patient to make a full recovery. The odds of comorbidities are high with stage 4 bedsores, as well, such as infections, sepsis and fatal health complications. Even if a patient recovers from a stage 4 bedsore, the open wound can leave behind scarring or disfigurement, as well as emotional trauma.
Are Stage 4 Pressure Sores Fatal?
A stage 4 bedsore or pressure ulcer is the worst-case scenario for this injury. While these injuries are still treatable and many patients heal and recover with proper medical care, they can be fatal, depending on the circumstances. A serious bedsore can lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, possibly creating a life-threatening condition known as sepsis, where the body has an extreme reaction to fighting an infection.
Furthermore, patients with stage 4 bedsores most likely suffer from multiple infections, as well as a serious loss of skin and tissue. The odds of a stage 4 pressure ulcer being fatal are higher when the injury is left undetected or untreated, as well as if the patient is weak or compromised from other health conditions. Fatal bedsores are also more common in older individuals – those who are 75 and older. If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence, the Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP are ready to fight for justice.
Can You Sue for a Stage 4 Bedsore?
Although not all fatal stage 4 bedsores are a sign of negligence, if a reasonable and prudent caregiver would have prevented the bedsore, detected the injury sooner and/or provided better medical care, someone could be held accountable for your loved one’s bedsore. Even if the patient reasonably could have developed a bedsore with proper care, for the bedsore to reach stage 4, there was most likely some degree of neglect.
A nursing home staff member or person in charge of caring for your loved one may be guilty of failing to check or monitor the patient frequently enough, or failing to follow the patient’s repositioning schedule. If there is proof that one or more parties should have prevented your loved one’s stage 4 bedsore, your family can file a lawsuit in Los Angeles County in pursuit of financial compensation.
Filing a lawsuit can hold a nursing home or another party liable, or legally responsible, for this severe type of injury. If your loved one tragically lost his or her life because of a stage 4 bedsore, a lawyer can help you bring a wrongful death lawsuit, instead. Either way, a lawyer can assist you in seeking justice. For more information about stage 4 bedsore lawsuits, contact Rose, Klein & Marias to request a free case evaluation.