Stage 1 Bedsores

Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers and decubitus ulcers, are blisters on the skin caused by continual pressure. Stage 1 bedsores are the least dangerous but can worsen without proper treatment. Sadly, stage 1 bedsores may be a sign that nursing home abuse is taking place. Those affected by bedsores may be able to access financial aid through legal action.

What Is a Stage 1 Bedsore?

Bedsores are blisters that form on patches of skin that cover bony parts of the body. This includes the back of the head, knees, shoulder blades, hips, tailbone, heels, and ankles.

Bedsores are categorized into four stages, with stage 1 bedsores being the earliest and least severe stage. In this stage, the affected area of skin may be discolored but an open wound has not formed.

Bedsores of all stages usually happen from lying in bed or sitting in a chair for a long period of time. Nursing home residents who have problems moving themselves are at a higher risk of developing bedsores.

Unfortunately, a stage 1 bedsore could be tied to nursing home neglect or abuse. Nursing home staff members should be properly trained to prevent and treat bedsores. But this doesn’t always happen, and in too many cases, stage 1 bedsores worsen into something more severe.

If you or a loved one developed a bedsore in a nursing home, help is available. Medical care can heal many bedsores and legal action can help you afford top treatments. Taking legal action can also hold the nursing home accountable for causing the bedsore.

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Who Is at Risk for a Stage 1 Bedsore?

Stage 1 bedsores are likely to form in people who are bedridden, unconscious, or unable to detect pain. This includes people who must use a wheelchair or wear a cast for a long period of time.

Since pressure ulcers are most often caused by sitting or lying for a prolonged period of time, nursing home residents are especially at risk for developing stage 1 bedsores. This is because the elderly population is more likely to have trouble moving around and changing positions on their own while sitting or lying in bed.

Additional risk factors for stage 1 bedsores include:

  • Dehydration
  • Health conditions that affect blood flow, such as diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Spinal cord injury or neurological disorders that cause loss of sensation

While stage 1 bedsores are highly treatable, they can be a red flag in nursing homes since they can be directly related to the overall care a resident is receiving. Sadly, a stage 1 bedsore might be one of the first signs of nursing home neglect.

Causes of a Stage 1 Bedsore

There are 3 main causes of stage 1 bedsores:

  • Friction: When moist skin rubs against clothing or bedding, it can cause stage 1 bedsores to develop. Inadequate skin care can worsen this in affected areas of the body.
  • Pressure: Lack of blood flow caused by constant pressure on the skin can stop oxygen and other nutrients from getting to tissues. This can damage skin tissue, causing it to eventually die and turn into an open sore.
  • Shear: This happens when the bones or muscle beneath the skin move but the skin itself stays in place or moves in the opposite direction. It could occur when a bed is elevated at the head, causing the resident to slide down while skin over their bones stays in place.

The one underlying factor that causes a stage 1 bedsore is any medical condition that limits a person’s ability to change positions on their own. Medical conditions that limit movement are often why older adults move into nursing homes in the first place.

However, if staff members are unable or unwilling to provide proper care, residents could develop bedsores as a result.

Symptoms of Stage 1 Bedsores

If a stage 1 bedsore has developed, the skin in that area will look red and feel warmer or cooler than unaffected skin. If it is pressed down on, a stage 1 bedsore will stay red, whereas healthy skin would turn white.

Skin affected by a stage 1 bedsore may be harder than the surrounding skin. It could also be a different temperature (warmer or colder) or have a bluish tint. Stage 1 bedsores can cause pain, burning, or itching.

Additional symptoms of stage 1 bedsores include:

  • Changes in the texture of the skin
  • Pus-like draining
  • Swelling
  • Tender areas

It is also very important to know where pressure sores are likely to show up, as their location on the body can vary based on the extent of limited mobility.

Patients Who Are BedriddenPatients in Wheelchairs
Back or sides of the headBacks of arms and legs
Heels, ankles, and behind the kneesButtocks
HipsShoulder blades
Lower back or tailboneSpine
Shoulder bladesTailbone

Stage 1 Bedsore Prevention

Stage 1 bedsores really shouldn’t occur to begin with as nursing home staff members are trained to prevent them.

“It is estimated that 95% of all pressure ulcers are preventable. Prevention rather than mere treatment of established ulcers remains a top priority in the effort to reduce the incidence of this common, complex, and difficult problem.”

– National Institutes for Health (NIH)

Proactive staff members can prevent stage 1 bedsores from happening carefully monitoring the skin for redness, especially on bony areas. If constant pressure to the skin is not addressed, the skin can break open and become infected.

It is also critical to ensure there are no issues with poor hygiene or malnutrition.

Other ways to prevent stage 1 bedsores from developing include:

  • Ensuring those in wheelchairs stay upright and change position every 15 minutes
  • Keeping the skin clean and dry to maintain proper incontinence care
  • Knowing the signs of infection, tissue damage, tissue injury, and dead tissue
  • Making sure all caregivers are familiar with the stages of bedsores
  • Putting soft cushioning in wheelchairs and beds
  • Repositioning a person who can’t easily move themselves every 2 hours

Weight management is also important in preventing stage 1 bedsores. For people who are severely obese, losing weight can lessen pressure that can cause bedsores. If a person is underweight, they are more likely to need additional padding around bony areas.

Even small amounts of movement can increase blood flow. It may be possible to safely incorporate low-impact stretching into your loved one’s care plan.

Despite training and other protocols, bedsores remain a big problem in nursing homes.

Your loved one’s bedsore may have been preventable. See if compensation is available.

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Stage 1 Bedsore Treatment

Although stage 1 bedsores are the mildest stage, they can still be very painful. Additionally, they are likely to get worse if they are not addressed quickly, so early treatment is critical.

Treatment options for stage 1 bedsores include:

  • Drinking more fluids
  • Inspecting the affected area at least twice per day
  • Keeping the area clean and dry
  • Removing all pressure
  • Staying off the affected area

A health care provider should be consulted when administering any treatment. Proper treatment can help prevent stage 1 bedsores from developing into stage 2 bedsores.

Complications From a Stage 1 Bedsore

Once a stage 1 bedsore develops, it can quickly advance into a more severe stage. If a stage 1 bedsore gets infected, fever is likely to occur as the infection travels through the body. The infection can spread into the blood, heart, and bones, turning a once mild bedsore into a life-threatening condition.

Additional complications that can develop from a stage 1 bedsore include:

  • Amputations
  • Autonomic dysreflexia (dangerously high blood pressure)
  • Prolonged bed rest

Since people with bedsores are less active while they are healing, they develop a higher risk for respiratory problems and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Prognosis for Stage 1 Bedsores

Stage 1 bedsores can usually be reversed in about three days if the proper precautions are taken to remove the pressure that caused them.

The danger with stage 1 bedsores, especially in the elderly population, is that they can worsen in a matter of hours or days. If complications from a stage 1 bedsore arise, the condition can take months or even years to clear up.

Some bedsores never heal and can even be fatal if they get past a certain level of severity.

Taking steps to prevent stage 1 bedsores from worsening is the best way to ensure a good prognosis.

Compensation for Stage 1 Bedsores

Stage 1 bedsores are easily treated, but, sadly, they are often not detected well enough in advance to stop them from worsening. It is, therefore, critical to monitor the overall care your loved one receives. Warning signs such as bedsores should never be taken lightly, as they are often a red flag for ongoing nursing home abuse or neglect.

Nursing homes have a duty to keep residents safe. If you suspect that your loved one has developed stage 1 bedsores due to abuse or neglect, legal and financial support is available.

Filing a nursing home abuse legal claim may help you get the compensation you need to get the best care for your loved one. It can also prevent other vulnerable nursing home residents from being harmed.

Get a free case review today to learn if you may be eligible for compensation.

You deserve justice. Get a free legal case review now.

Author:Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team
Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team

Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to shine a light on nursing home and elder abuse. Every day, thousands of people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abused. Our team helps educate seniors and their loved ones on the common causes, signs and preventions of nursing home abuse. We report on real-world studies and current events from respected news outlets to expose this national problem.

Last modified: March 25, 2021

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