Nursing Home Residents with Diabetes at Higher Risk for Bedsores: Having diabetes increases the risk of developing pressure ulcers and may impede the kind of early detection that prevents dangerous bedsores stages.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) diabetes impacts about 12 million seniors over 65, with between 25-34 percent of nursing home residents struggling with the disease. As the complications of diabetes impacts residents’ ability to ward off bed sores, nursing homes have added challenges in protecting residents with diabetes from the many threats associated with pressure ulcers.

A Diabetes Self Management article describes two factors of diabetes that increases the risks of sufferers for bedsores:

  • Neuropathy-The high blood glucose associated with diabetes delivers damaging levels of sugar to nerves, causing nerve damage and diminished sensation. The inability for elderly nursing home residents to feel prolonged pressure against their skin (the primary cause of pressure ulcers) may hinder the impulse to shift position. Bedsores could develop as a result of unrelented pressure. If nursing home residents with diabetes do develop pressure ulcers, their ability to detect them by sensation is hampered by the nerve damage. This means minor bedsores could develop into more serious bedsore before they are noticed and treated.
  • Poor Circulation-The high levels of sugar circulated in the blood vessels of people with diabetes damages the vessels, lessening blood flow. Poor circulation makes skin and underlying tissues more susceptible to damage; it also impedes the body’s ability to heal cuts and sores. Residents who suffer poor circulation as a result of diabetes are therefore not only more prone to develop bed sores, but likely will also struggle to heal from any pressure ulcers they sustain, which makes the likelihood of developing infections from bedsores higher.

The challenge facing nursing home workers who care for residents with diabetes is that these elderly persons in their care are at high risk both for developing bedsores and for having pressure sores that could rapidly deteriorate. Deteriorated bed sores can lead to serious infections, including sepsis and osteomyelitis and, in some cases, can lead even to death.

The following are the four stages of pressure sore deterioration that nursing home residents with diabetes at higher risk for bedsores are in danger of suffering, if medical intervention is not quickly implemented:

  • Stage I Bedsores: Mildly painful patches of reddened skin that are approximately quarter-sized. Untreated Stage I pressure ulcers will continue to deteriorate.
  • Stage II Pressure Ulcers: Sores have expanded in both size and depth and the pain associated with them has increased.
  • Stage III Bed Sores: Ulcers have grown deeper and wider and more painful. Skin in and around the wound has begun to go gangrenous (become necrotic, or rot).
  • Stage IV Bedsores: The size of the wound has grown considerably. More tissue has died; this necrotic tissue releases a foul odor. Pus-filled infections have developed. At this stage, the sore’s depth might be bone-deep. Pain is significant.

It is required of nursing home staff that they develop specialized care plans for residents at risk for bed sores, like those with diabetes. If pressure ulcers do develop, nursing homes are responsible.

Holding Nursing Homes Responsible for Bed Sore Neglect

By law, every Philadelphia / PA and NJ nursing home needs to assess every resident for his or her potential to develop bed sores. It is up to the nursing home to prevent pressure ulcers from occurring and to swiftly remedy any pressure ulcers that do develop. Nursing home neglect and abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy has extensive experience dealing with bedsore-related cases in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and New Jersey nursing homes. If your loved one who resides at a Philadelphia / PA or NJ nursing home has developed a serious infection from a bed sore, or is afflicted with a pressure sore at any stage, contact pressure ulcer attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.