Once a nursing home resident develops a bed sore, he is entitled to receive care, treatment, and services to promote healing, prevent infection, and stop new bed sores from developing. Getting proper care of new or existing bed sores is crucial to the overall health and well-being of the nursing home resident because bed sores which are not properly treated can lead to the development of infections like osteomyelitis or cellulitis which can cause sepsis and ultimately result in the wrongful death of the nursing home resident.
As bed sores become more advanced – Stage 3, Stage 4, or unstageable – one common form of treatment is debridement of the wound. Debridement means removal of the dead tissue from the wound bed which helps promote healing. The removal of the dead tissue also helps prevent infection.
There are four main forms of debridement that are used to treat bed sores –
Autolytic debridement – This involves the use of special dressings which help the body to develop its own enzymes. These enzymes break down necrotic, or dead, tissue. This helps the necrotic tissue pull away from healthy tissue which leaves the resident with a clean wound bed. This is the least painful form of debridement, but may take several weeks for healing to take place. This cannot be used when there is an active infection.
Enzymatic debridement – This involves the use of chemicals to dissolve dead tissue. The dead tissue is then pulled away from the viable tissue with the dressing. If eschar is present, there may have to be small cross-hatching cuts made in the eschar to allow the debriding agents to enter the tissue. This should be done by a wound care specialist such as a wound care doctor or a wound care nurse.
Sharp debridement – This involves the cutting away of dead and infected tissue with a scalpel, usually done at bedside with the resident receiving a local anesthetic. A sharp debridement will leave the resident with a larger, but healthier wound once the dead and infected tissue has been cut away. The removal of the dead and infected tissue will help the wound heal more efficiently.
Surgical debridement – Similar to a sharp debridement, this also involves the cutting away of dead and infected tissue, only this is done in a hospital setting. This is done most commonly where the infection is widespread, where there is tunneling and/or undermining of the wound, suggesting the area of injury may be much larger than visual inspection suggests. It may also be done with residents who suffer a Stage 4 bed sore where the surgeon wishes to do a bone biopsy to definitively confirm the diagnosis of osteomyelitis and determine which antibiotics would be most effective for combatting the infection.
Each of these courses of action are likely to be undertaken once a resident has developed a bed sore which is declining. These aggressive measures are necessary to prevent further decline, promote healing, and prevent the onset of infection.
If these kinds of treatments have proven necessary to combat the bed sores your parent has developed, contact our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers for more information and learn more about what your rights are.