Documenting Bed Sores

  • Bed sores appear frequently on patients in hospitals, care facilities, and in at-home care situations.
  • They are treatable. If they’re present on an older adult, they SHOULD be getting treated.
  • Untreated bed sores are a sign of elder neglect.
  • Untreated bed sores should be documented (take pictures & describe).
  • The medical term for bed sores is “decubitus ulcers.” They’re also known as pressure sores.
  • Bed sores are open sores (small or large, superficial or deep) caused by immobility.
  • The continuous pressure on the body’s surface reduces the blood flow to that area and the tissue dies, forming the open sore.
  • Bed sores can form in a matter of hours or days.

The most common places to see bed sores are:

  • Hips
  • Sacrum (low back)
  • Heels
  • Shoulder blades
  • Ears

They may also be found on atypical areas of the body based on the patient’s positioning.

There are four stages (I-IV) of bed sore severity:

  • Stage I – reddened area on the skin (not open) that doesn’t turn white when pressed
  • Stage II – may be a blister or an open sore
  • Stage III – a sunken crater that dips into the tissue below the skin
  • Stage IV – level that reaches bone or white cartilage (may be shallow or deep depending on the area)

Take photos.
Consult with a physician to correctly identify bedsores and staging.

View photos of bed sores and other types of elder abuse.