When an individual slips into a coma, it can be caused by many different reasons, ranging from traumatic brain injuries to severe illnesses to medically induced comas. Regardless of the underlying reason, a commonality remains between most comas patients. Typically, they are confined to a bed, without their brain being alert to external stimuli, similar to being in a deep sleep. Those who are in a coma are often within the sterile confines of a hospital room for an extended duration. Many believe that bed sores develop as the result of a patient laying in bed for an extended period of time. However, while the risk is undeniable, it’s important to recognize that there are procedures that can be exercised to prevent the development of bed sores.

Hospitals and long-term care facilities have the responsibility of understanding and implementing preventive measures against bed sores, yet regrettably, lapses in this duty can occur, causing the development of severe bedsores that can even cause sepsis. The consequences of untreated bed sores can quickly become severe, posing significant threats to the health and even the life of comatose patients. However, bed sores are typically preventable with proper care and diligent care. Should your loved one fall victim to bed sores due to negligent care, whether it be in a hospital, at home, or in a long-term care facility, you may be able to seek legal recourse. Our team at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk understands just how important it is to prevent bed sores in coma patients, and how important it is to properly treat and monitor them when they do occur. Seeking legal assistance from a specialized personal injury attorney near you, at our firm could potentially lead to families obtaining compensation for untreated bedsores, which occur as a result of negligent care. Contact us today!

How Do You Get Bed Sores?

Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin and underlying tissue. These types of sores commonly occur in areas where bones are close to the skin surface, such as the:

  • Heels
  • Ankles
  • Hips
  • Spine
  • Tailbone

Coma patients are particularly vulnerable to developing bed sores due to their incapacitated state, and inability to change positions or move. As they remain immobile for extended periods, the constant pressure on specific areas of the body without preventative measures can lead to bed sores forming. These sores can manifest over hours or days. While many bed sores can heal with appropriate treatment, others do not, leaving the patient at risk of developing infections. Taking proactive measures to prevent bed sores in coma patients and providing proper care when they do develop can help with the healing process.

What Are The Four Stages Of Bed Sores?

Healthcare providers, whether in hospitals, nursing homes, or home care settings, play an important part in identifying and addressing pressure sore injuries, particularly in individuals who are bedridden or in a coma. Nurses or health aides assisting with personal care tasks can also be a source of vigilance in spotting signs of pressure injuries. For coma patients, who are confined to a bed and unable to move, it’s essential to keep an eye out for the beginning stages of pressure sores on the body and implement immediate care and monitoring of the sores to ensure they do not worsen. Pressure ulcers are classified into four main stages, each indicating the severity of the condition. Understanding these stages is an important aspect of early detection and intervention to prevent further complications. According to John’s Hopkins Medicine, the four stages of bed sores are:

  • Stage 1 – The first stage of bed sores presents an initial appearance of a red, blue, or purplish area resembling a bruise on the skin. It may feel warm, and the individual might experience burning or itching sensations. However, in a coma patient, they will not be able to tell their doctor or nurses about these sensations.
  • Stage 2 – The area that initially looked similar to a bruise has progressed into an open sore resembling an abrasion or blister. Along with the skin abrasion, continued discoloration of the surrounding skin may occur, and the area is typically painful to the touch, or when the patient moves.
  • Stage 3 – The third stage of bed sores includes the deepening of the ulcer, forming a crater-like appearance. Along with the bed sore penetrating further into the skin and tissue, dark patches of skin may develop around the edges of the wound.
  • Stage 4 – The worst stage of bed sores, stage four includes severe damage that extends to the muscle, bone, or joints. This extensive damage could potentially lead to complications such as osteomyelitis (bone infection) or sepsis (blood infection), which can be life-threatening if not treated with aggressive therapies.

It’s also important to note that there’s a type of pressure sore labelled “Unstageable Full Thickness Pressure Injury,” which refers to a stage 3 or 4 ulcer that is covered with dead tissue (eshar) or thick slimy tissue (slough). This makes it challenging to determine the severity of the wound.

Knowing the stages of bed sores in coma patients allows families and health care professionals to effectively provide an early diagnosis and treat them promptly to prevent the condition from worsening. This information also provides families with the ability to determine how long the bed sore has been forming, and whether or not negligent care is involved.

Here’s How To Prevent Pressure Sores In An Unconscious Patient

Healthcare facilities, particularly those specializing in caring for comatose patients, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, should have thorough protocols in place to prevent the occurrence of pressure sores. While these patients may not respond to pain or external stimuli, maintaining the integrity of their skin by preventing bed sores is an important part of caring for their overall health and well-being. Protocols put into place to prevent bed sores can include the following.

Regular Position Changes Every Few Hours

One important aspect of knowing how to prevent pressure sores in an unconscious patient involves regularly repositioning them, typically every few hours. This rotation through various positions throughout the day is essential for minimizing the risk of developing pressure sores. Repositioning comatose patients involves shifting them from one position to another, such as moving them from their back to their right side, then to their left side, and so forth. Since comatose patients cannot hold themselves in these positions on their own, to maintain them effectively, pillows and supportive devices are used to prevent the patient’s weight from moving them out of the desired position. By repositioning patients throughout the day, it ensures the patient has continuous relief from pressure and reduces the likelihood of pressure ulcers forming.

Using Foam Cushions

In an effort to prevent pressure sores in coma patients, incorporating foam cushions is often a part of protocol, as it can be an effective strategy. These cushions are used to distribute pressure evenly across the body, effectively reducing the risk of irritation to areas where bone is close to the skin. By providing a supportive yet soft and gentle surface, foam cushions help maintain the integrity of the skin, particularly for coma patients who are immobile for extended periods of time. Integrating the use of foam cushions into coma patient care protocols highlights the commitment to proactive and comprehensive care, ensuring the well-being and comfort of coma patients.

Maintain Skin Dryness, Cleanliness, and Sanitization

Maintaining skin dryness, cleanliness, and sanitization is an important aspect of preventing bed sores in comatose patients. Clean skin reduces the likelihood of ulcers developing or becoming infected, highlighting the importance of regular bathing with warm water and mild soap. After bathing, it’s essential to thoroughly pat the skin dry to remove any lingering moisture, as dampness can also be a contributor to the formation of sores. Routine changes of, bed sheets, diligent inspection for catheter leaks, and regular diaper changes are also an essential part of caring for comatose patients. These preventative bed sore protocols not only promote skin health but also reduce the risk of pressure ulcers developing, thus contributing to the overall well-being of the patient.


Even when a patient is in a coma, it’s imperative that they receive exercise to prevent bed sores. Going through an exercise regimen daily involves gentle manipulation of their limbs to stimulate blood circulation and prevent muscle atrophy. Hospitals and long-term care facilities typically include physiotherapy sessions into the care protocol of comatose patients, incorporating movements and massages several times a week. These routine exercises not only promote circulation but also help maintain muscle tone, reducing the risk of developing pressure sores due to sitting in one place for too long.

Preventing Bed Sores Is An Ethical Obligation

Implementing protocols to prevent bed sores is not only a matter of medical necessity, but also a fundamental aspect of providing humane care. As healthcare professionals, it is an ethical obligation to adhere to the principle of “do no harm” and provide the best care to all their patients, regardless of whether they are alert or in a coma. Preventing bed sores is not just a matter of medical practice. It’s also a testament to their commitment to uphold the dignity and welfare of every individual under their care.

If you suspect that your family member, who is in a coma, is receiving negligent care and developing bed sores as a direct result, don’t hesitate to contact our team of nearby Florida personal injury lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk. We are here to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and ensure that your loved one receives the best care and treatment they deserve. Our team will also work tirelessly to seek compensation for any harm caused by negligent care, providing support and advocacy for your family every step of the way.