Many residents of nursing homes have severe mobility limitations. They may spend nearly all their time in bed, due to any of a variety of medical disorders. Bedridden people need strict attention from nursing home staff, because they are often unable to communicate their discomfort and pain.

One of the most common problems associated with being bed-bound is bedsores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, bedsores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue that are the result of prolonged pressure on the skin, such as lying in the same position for a long period of time.

Bedsores fall into four categories, based on how old they are. In Stage I, the skin in not yet broken, but may change color and may be tender, painful, and be different in firmness and temperature to the surrounding skin.

At Stage II, there is damage or loss to the outer layer of skin, and some of the underlying layer. The resulting wound may be shallow, and pinkish or red. It may resemble a blister. At Stage III, the ulcer deepens, possibly resembling a crater and exposing underlying fat. It may spread underneath healthy skin.

Finally, a Stage IV ulcer has large-scale loss of tissue. Muscle, bone or tendons might be exposed. Dead tissue may appear at the bottom that appears yellowish or dark and crusty, and the damage will often extend beyond the primary wound.

People confined to a bed can develop bedsores on their heads, ears, shoulders, shoulder blades, hips, backs, tailbones, heels, ankles and knees—anywhere that is likely to be in prolonged contact with the bed.

Nursing homes can prevent bedsores by repositioning the nursing home resident regularly. Unfortunately, negligent staff may fail to do so, allowing bedsores to develop.