Are Incontinent Patients at an Increased Risk for Developing Bed Sores?

By Nursing Home Law Center

Incontinent Patients

Yes. By some accounts, more that 50% of the people living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities may have some type of bladder or bowl control problems. Although widely used, incontinence can be defined as the uncontrolled elimination of urine or fecal material from the body.

Incontinent Patients Bedsore Risk FactorDespite its prevalence, incontinence is often treatable. Any resident who has been deemed incontinent should be evaluated by a physician to determine if the cause of the incontinence is physical or psychological. Once the cause is identified a combination of behavior modification and staff assistance may be of some help. In other cases, medication or surgery may also help alleviate the incontinence issues. Diapers or similar undergarments should only be used as a last resort.

Incontinent patients have an increased vulnerability for developing bed sores (also called: pressure ulcers, pressure, sores or decubitus ulcers) because when urine or fecal material is held against the skin, the damp, acidic nature of the wastes cause the skin to become weakened and susceptible to cracking and peeling–literally eroding the bodies natural defenses.

Proper maintenance of the skin, requires the skin to be kept dray and sanitized. To minimize development of pressure sores, facilities should take the following precautions for incontinent residents:

  • Have adequate staffing levels: encourage patients, who are able, to use the toilet and those who are unable to notify staff as soon as a change of sheets or clothing is required.

  • Clean patients regularly with mild soap and lukewarm water.

  • Moisturized patients daily, the lotions help create a barrier on the skin.

  • Use proper turning techniques to minimize time spent in one location.

  • Keep the bed elevation (in other words, keep the head even as possible with the rest of the body)- this reduces pressure on the sacrum.

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