What are pressure sores?
Pressure sores, also called pressure ulcers or bed sores are a medical condition which affect the skin and underlying tissue.
If a person sits or lays in one position long enough for their skin to be compressed it can cause damage to the skin and tissue below. Medical experts suggest damage can commence in as little as 20 minutes.
Continual pressure applied to the skin can cause the blood supply to that area to become interrupted and if that happens it may result in the development of a pressure sore.
The longer the skin remains under pressure the greater the risk of a pressure sore and also the severity of injury.
The levels of tissue damage are from the mildest, Grade 1 to the most severe, Grade 4. (see opposite).
Some people are at an increased risk of developing pressure sores and they include:
If someone receives care from an organisation such as an NHS hospital, private hospital, care or nursing home, it is the duty of that organisation to assess the risk of pressure sores.
Ensuring the pressure sore risk assessment is done correctly and acted upon will reduce the risk to the individual.
There are a number of complications that can result following the development of a pressure sore including sepsis (blood poisoning) and gangrene.
Medical experts agree that over 80% of pressure sores are avoidable.
If you have developed a pressure sore whilst under care of another it is likely that you have been the victim of negligent nursing.
Pressure Sores are graded in order of severity
A grade one pressure ulcer is considered superficial. There may be some mild colour change, redness on light skin or blue/purple on darker skin.
Warmth, water retention and skin hardening are all indicators of the development of a pressure sore.
There may be itching and mild pain.
A grade two pressure sore is also considered superficial.
There will be some partial thickness skin loss with abrasion or clear blister.
Bruising and blood blister both indicate deeper damage
A grade 3 pressure sore is a serious condition. There will be full skin loss and fat below the skin will be visible. Sometimes a Grade 3 pressure sore may be termed as unclassified. This is because the extent of the wound is difficult to determine because of dead skin and infection.
This is the most severe grade of pressure sore. Bone, tendons and underlying tissues are visible. The pressure sore can extend into supporting muscle and tissue.