Stage 3 Bedsores

Stage 3 bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are severe wounds that penetrate deep into the skin and put nursing home residents at risk of serious infections. A stage 3 pressure ulcer can be prevented if nursing home staff treats the sore when it’s in an earlier stage. If your loved one developed a stage 3 bedsore in a nursing home, you may be entitled to legal compensation for nursing home neglect. See if we can help you get justice.

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Rae Theodore

Written by: Rae Theodore

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What Are Stage 3 Bedsores?

Stage 3 bedsores are deep and painful wounds in the skin. They are the third of four bedsore stages. These open sores develop when a stage 2 bedsore penetrates past the top layers of skin but has not yet reached muscle or bone.

Stage 3 bedsores increase the risk of life-threatening infections and may develop into stage 4 bedsores. While stage 3 bedsores are often treatable or preventable with proper medical care, nursing home residents who staff members neglect may not get the treatment they need.

Causes of a Stage 3 Pressure Ulcer

Nursing home residents may develop a stage 3 pressure ulcer if they sit or lie in the same position for extended periods of time. This puts pressure on the skin and cuts off blood flow, leading to irritation and cellular damage.

All pressure ulcers begin as stage 1 bedsores. If left untreated, they can worsen into stage 2 and then stage 3 bedsores.

Earlier stages of pressure ulcers break the top layers of skin. Stage 3 bedsores go even further, reaching the second layer of skin (the dermis) and the subcutaneous tissue below the skin.

Stage 3 Bedsores and Nursing Home Neglect

Stage 3 bedsores in nursing homes are often caused by nursing home neglect. Many older adults and their loved ones rely on nursing homes and their staff to provide care. This is especially true when a resident has health problems that prevent them from moving, like a spinal cord injury.

Nursing home staff members are trained to check on residents who are at risk of bedsores and help with repositioning. However, not all staff members follow through on their duty to help the residents in their care.

Staff burnout, understaffing, and carelessness, which are all causes of nursing home neglect, can prevent high-risk residents from getting the care they need. In these cases, nursing homes may be directly responsible if a stage 3 bedsore develops.

Stage 3 bedsores should have been prevented. Get a free case review right now to see if you may be eligible for compensation from a nursing home lawsuit.

Symptoms of a Stage 3 Pressure Wound

The most common symptom of a stage 3 pressure wound is a deep, crater-like wound in the skin. Fat tissue, dead skin, dry scabs, and curled wound edges may also be seen, and signs of infection may appear.

Symptoms of an infected stage 3 pressure injury include:

  • Fever
  • Greenish fluid or pus oozing from the wound
  • Necrosis (skin turning black and dying)
  • Redness around the sore

You will not be able to see muscle, ligaments, or bone in a stage 3 bedsore. If bone or muscle is visible, it means the resident has a stage 4 bedsore.

Diagnosing a Stage 3 Pressure Injury

Doctors diagnose stage 3 pressure injuries based on the symptoms and how deep the wound is.

“Your doctor will likely look closely at your skin to decide if you have a pressure ulcer and, if so, to assign a stage to the wound. Staging helps determine what treatment is best for you.”
– Mayo Clinic

Factors that doctors consider when diagnosing bedsores include:

  • Pain: Patients with stage 3 bedsores may not be able to sense pain due to severe skin and tissue damage. In stage 1 and stage 2 bedsores, pain is very common.
  • Depth of the wound: A stage 3 pressure ulcer is a deep tissue injury. It is a tunneling wound that penetrates the top layers of skin and underlying tissue but not the bone or muscle.

Seek immediate medical attention if your loved one has or may have a stage 3 pressure ulcer since it poses a severe health risk and needs to be treated promptly.

If nursing home staff members fail to help a resident get prompt medical care for their stage 3 pressure ulcer, they could be to blame if the sore worsens or causes dangerous health complications.

Once your loved one has gotten proper treatment, consider reaching out to a nursing home abuse attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation. Our legal partners have recovered over $267 million for families impacted by nursing home neglect, including stage 3 bedsores.

Call (888) 726-9160 right now to see if a trusted nursing home neglect lawyer can fight for the compensation and justice your loved one deserves.

Stage 3 Pressure Sore Diagnostic Issues

It may not always be possible to diagnose stage 3 bedsores. Bedsores are considered unstageable if there’s too much dead skin or scabbing around them. Doctors won’t be able to tell how deep the sore goes until these are removed.

Doctors may not even want to remove the eschar in some cases. For example, dead tissue that develops on stage 3 bedsores near the heel can signal that the injury is repairing itself.

Stage 3 Pressure Ulcer Treatment

Thankfully, medical professionals can often treat a severe pressure ulcer even if they cannot assign it a stage. The key is to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Treatment methods for stage 3 bedsores include:

  • Relieving pressure: Taking pressure off the affected area helps ensure it will not worsen.
  • Debridement: Doctors remove the dead skin or scabs from the sore to promote healing.
  • Cleaning: Once the bedsore is free of dead skin and scabs, water or saline (salt water) will be used to clean it.
  • Bandaging: Health care providers may use gauze, foam, or other options to bandage the pressure ulcer.
  • Other options: The Mayo Clinic notes that dietary changes, pain relievers like ibuprofen, and surgery can help patients recover from a stage 3 wound.

Even with wound care, stage 3 bedsores can take 1-6 months or longer to heal. If the bedsore is not treated, severe complications may arise.

Stage 3 Ulcer Complications

When a stage 3 pressure ulcer is ignored, the health consequences can be catastrophic, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems.

Complications from stage 3 bedsores include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Blood infections (sepsis)
  • Bone infections (osteomyelitis)
  • Wrongful death

Stage 3 bedsores that are not treated properly can also worsen into stage 4 bedsores. This stage is the deepest and most likely to lead to severe health outcomes.

If you or someone you love has suffered a stage 3 bedsore in a nursing home, get a free case review to find out about your legal options and get connected to a top attorney.

Pressure Ulcer Stage 3 Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of someone with a stage 3 pressure ulcer depends on when they get medical care and any underlying health conditions. Stage 3 bedsores themselves may not be fatal, but related health problems can be.

Case in point: A Korean War veteran and nursing home resident died after developing stage 2 and stage 3 bedsores, along with other complications such as infections and sepsis. He had been in the nursing home for less than 2 months.

The veteran’s family blamed his death on the nursing home, as staff members were supposed to help him move every few hours to avoid the sores.

Can You Prevent Stage 3 Bedsores?

Stage 3 bedsores are entirely preventable. Nursing home staff should be trained to detect early-stage bedsores and administer care when they arise. When they fail to do so, it may be a sign of nursing home neglect.

Nursing home residents, loved ones, and staff members can all take steps to help prevent bedsores. Learn more below.

Ways nursing home staff can prevent a stage 3 pressure ulcer include:

  • Help residents with limited mobility issues move regularly
  • Properly clean and treat early-stage bedsores
  • Reach out to doctors and nurses if a sore worsens

Staff should also keep family members and relatives up-to-date on the bedsore’s healing process.

Did you know?

If residents or families are concerned about the care being provided at a facility, nursing home ombudsmen are often a good starting point. Ombudsmen serve as advocates for residents and can help resolve care concerns by working with the nursing home facility.

If a resident has developed a stage 3 pressure ulcer, then staff members may be guilty of nursing home abuse or neglect. They are the residents’ daily caregivers and must ensure the most vulnerable are not harmed.

Legal action is often a valuable tool for residents and family members in these cases. Holding nursing homes legally accountable can prevent other residents from developing bedsores from inadequate care.

Compensation from a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be used to help pay for your loved one’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and transfer to a facility where they can get the care they deserve.

Seek Legal Compensation for a Stage 3 Bedsore

Legal compensation may be available if you or someone you love developed a stage 3 bedsore while in a nursing home. Compensation can cover the cost of medical treatments that are key to healing after a sore develops.

No one deserves the heartbreak and devastation bedsores can bring, and you shouldn’t have to pay for the costs related to them. has partnered with top nursing home abuse law firms that have recovered over $267 million for families impacted by stage 3 bedsores and other nursing home injuries.

These firms:

  • Are fierce advocates of our most vulnerable citizens
  • Can help families in all 50 states
  • Never charge any upfront or hourly fees

Contact us at (888) 726-9160 right now or complete our form to see if they can help you secure justice.

Stage 3 Decubitus Ulcer FAQs

How long does it take for a stage 3 bedsore to heal?

Stage 3 bedsores are serious injuries, so it may take 1 to 6 months or longer after treatment for them to heal. Factors that may impact this time frame include the size of the sore and the overall health of the patient.

If caretakers leave the bedsore untreated, life-threatening complications like blood or bone infections may arise.

How bad is a grade 3 pressure sore?

A stage 3 pressure sore is a serious nursing home injury, second only to a stage 4 sore in severity. At this stage, the open wound has penetrated the top layers of the skin and may have gone into the skin’s fatty layer, known as the hypodermis.

In most cases, a stage 3 wound can be treated. However, without quick and proper care, they can lead to dangerous infections and other health problems.

What’s the difference between a stage 2 vs stage 3 pressure ulcer?

A stage 2 pressure ulcer is an open wound affecting the top layers of the skin. A stage 3 pressure ulcer is a deeper wound affecting tissues and sometimes the fatter layer beneath those top layers.

A stage 2 wound can develop into a stage 3 wound if it isn’t treated, presenting a higher risk of infection.

What’s the difference between a stage 3 vs stage 4 pressure ulcer?

A stage 3 pressure ulcer is an open wound on an area of skin that has extended through the skin into deeper tissue while a stage 4 ulcer has penetrated farther, reaching muscle, tendon, and bone.

Both stage 3 and stage 4 ulcers are preventable, which is why they may be considered to be a form of elder abuse.

Get a free case review right now to see if you or a loved one may be entitled to compensation.

Rae Theodore

Written by: Rae Theodore

Rae Theodore is a writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in legal publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University.

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  2. Grada, A., & Phillips, T. (2023, September). “Pressure injuries.” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Bedsores.” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2024, February 22). “Bedsores (pressure ulcers).” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
  5. Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. “Recognizing and treating pressure sores.” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
  6. National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel. (n.d.). “NPIAP Pressure Injury Stages.” RetrievedApril 26, 2024, from
  7. Sherman, T., & Livio, S. (2019, July 20). “Who takes care of mom and dad in the nursing home? In N.J., the answer can be scary.” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2022, April 17). “How to care for pressure sores: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia.” Retrieved April 26, 2024, from
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