Gangrene and Pressure Ulcers

Gangrene and Pressure Sores: Is There a Connection?

How are gangrene and pressure sores (decubitus ulcers) related? Gangrene is a skin disorder that occurs when blood flow circulation does not reach certain areas of the body. Without essential blood flow, the skin tissue dies and gangrene can take hold in the affected area. This is why we commonly see gangrene in the toes and heels of a patient’s foot. These areas are the farthest points from the heart, so a patient with blood flow issues may lose circulation to these areas first.

Gangrene Leading to Pressure Sores

Pressure Sores and Gangrene

Gangrene presents with cool, dark skin due to poor blood circulation. This area will be at risk for pressure sore formation.

Gangrene frequently occurs in patients with circulatory issues, like peripheral vascular disease (PVD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and diabetes. Patients with these disorders also develop decubitus ulcers more frequently than those without the blood flow diseases. Typically, pressure ulcers are preventable through appropriate care whereas gangrene cannot always be prevented. However, a gangrene infection can lead to skin breakdown in the form of a pressure sore. Once the gangrene sets in, the surrounding skin tissue is compromised, which makes the area more prone to decubitus ulcer formation. Pressure sore injuries can be prevented by the nurses offloading pressure by repositioning the patient in bed every 2 hours. As we discuss in other articles on this site, pressure sores can act as a gateway to infection and can prove to be lethal.

Does Gangrene Indicate Nursing Home Neglect?

Dry Gangrene vs. Wet Gangrene

If your loved one developed gangrene in a nursing home, this does not necessarily mean that they were neglected. Dry gangrene arises from the aforementioned problems with blood flow and does not typically present with an infection. In other words, dry gangrene is attributable to the patient’s underlying condition, not due to patient neglect. Wet gangrene on the other hand almost always presents with an infection.

 This wet gangrene infection typically materializes through an open wound. The wound and subsequent infection may be a red flag for nursing home neglect.

If your loved one developed wet gangrene in a nursing home which led to an amputation, you should investigate whether the infection was preventable. If they developed a pressure sore, this almost always indicates patient neglect.

To speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer about your potential gangrene and/or pressure sore case, call us now at 561-316-7207 for a free consultation.

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