Contrary to what the nursing home industry wants us to believe, bedsores can be prevented. A bedsore, also commonly referred to as a pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer, is basically an injury to the underlying tissues of the skin. They most often occur when an individual remains in the same position for an extended period of time, creating prolonged pressure that affects the necessary blood flow and nutrients to the skin.
Residents in nursing homes are often at most risk because many of them have medical conditions that limit their ability to move. The necessary pressure to create a bedsore can result from sitting or lying for a prolonged period of time. People in wheelchairs often suffer from bedsores on the tailbone, spine, and the back of their arms or legs. For those that are bedbound, they often occur on the heels, hips, ankles, shoulders or their head.
The number one key to prevention (and treatment) is relieving pressure. This can be accomplished most effectively by repositioning a person regularly, particularly once a bedsore has developed. A second strategy is to ensure the appropriate support surfaces are utilized. There are all types of special mattresses and cushions that are designed to relieve pressure.
Once you recognize a bedsore, you should contact your doctor immediately. Bedsores can often resolve with appropriate detection and treatment. Aside from relieving the pressure, your doctor will access the severity of the bedsore and likely consider removing any damaged tissue and/or cleaning and dressing the wound. It is also critical that a patient maintain nutrition and hydration to promote health skin tissues.
If you or a loved one reside in a nursing home, detection of the skin should be a routine part of care. Unfortunately, all too often we see patients that suffer from bedsores due to neglect or lack of an appropriate care plan. The following are just a few of the precautions and safety measures that should be taken to prevent the formation of bedsores.
• Periodic reassessment of the patient’s risk;
• Appropriate bathing routine;
• Constant nutrition hydration;
• Repositioning to relieve pressure; and
• Use of appropriate support surfaces.
Christopher C. Walton is a San Diego nursing home neglect attorney whose practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & neglect. If you or somebody you know developed a bedsore, please call us at (619) 233-0011 for a free and confidential consultation with an elder abuse attorney.