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Bed Sore Prevention may Require Nursing Homes to Obtain Pressure Relieving Devices for Their Patients
As technology advances, innovations for treating and preventing conditions like pressure sores (also known as bedsores) are in development. Pressure relieving devices are ideal in helping patients with pressure sores, without having to move too much or sacrifice comfort.
Causes of Bedsores
Pressure sores begin because of the application of excessive pressure to a specific part of the body. The pressure obstructs blood flow to that area, which also reduces the nutrients going into the spot. After that, the skin and the nearby tissues die, creating a pressure sore.
Several factors lead to pressure sores, though most of them come from the skin’s contact with hard surfaces. Patients who are bedridden, wheelchair-bound, elderly, and/or overweight are the most vulnerable to these injuries, since they cannot move as much and pressure is constantly applied to vulnerable spots on their bodies. Some of these interactions include:
- Pressure. The application of pressure cuts parts of the body off from oxygen, nutrients, and blood flow, which damages the skin. In cases of patients with limited or no mobility, the areas most vulnerable to pressure sores do not have enough padding with muscle or fat, such as the shoulder blades, the spine, hips, heels, and elbows.
- Friction. Friction takes place when skin rubs against bedding or clothing, which is common in bedridden patients. Fragile skin is particularly vulnerable to friction.
- Shear. When two surfaces move in the opposite direction, shear takes place. For instance, sliding down an elevated bed will cause shear between the skin connected to the spine and the bed’s fabric.
Types of Pressure Relief Devices
One of the most notable advances in preventing the pressure that creates bedsores is the introduction of pressure relief devices. These devices typically include cushions, mattresses, pillows, and heel devices. Some of these devices are:
- Special mattress foam overlays. These devices are the easiest to access and a physician usually prescribes them.
- Special mattress sheepskin overlays. Another relatively common pressure relief device that is usually available with a doctor’s prescription.
- Air-fluidized support. This equipment forces air though a special covering on the bed, making it softer and often resembling a liquid texture. The device can turn the air on and off in an alternative manner to relieve the pressure periodically. Air-fluidized support use mostly occurs in a bed or an operating table.
- Constant low-pressure supports. These devices include overlays, cushions, and mattresses made of foam that is contoured or has a high density. The foam contains water, air, beads, or fiber. These supports relieve contact pressure by distributing the patient’s body weight evenly.
- Low air-loss beds. The mattresses on these beds contain inflatable upright sacs that are made of a special fabric. The inflatable sacs relieve the pressure on the skin by distributing the patient’s body weight more evenly over the mattress.
- Egg crate foam. This type of foam has bumps that resemble the inside of an egg carton. While medical professionals used this material in the past to bring pressure relief, no concrete studies have shown it prevents or treats pressure injuries.
- Heel offloading devices. These relief devices use materials such as foam or a gel pillow to elevate the heel and place zero pressure on it. Some of these devices also reduce friction and use ventilation holes to reduce moistness, two other factors that create pressure sores.
Benefits of Pressure Relief Devices
While pressure relief devices appear to cost too much for healthcare facilities, the benefits they provide can overshadow those costs. According to a case study that examined the overall beneficial impact of the devices, the proper application of a range of pressure relief devices can significantly improve the quality of life for the patient. In addition, the elimination of pressure injuries as a factor can improve health service efficiency and cut a facility’s treatment expenses.
These devices are also multi-faceted. Not only do they serve to prevent the emergence of pressure sores, but they also aid in the treatment of existing sores by bringing relief to the injury and preventing further damage from pressure.
Complementary Prevention Methods
Pressure relieving devices are the most comfortable methods available to prevent and even treat pressure sores. The devices are not the only forms of prevention. Other complementary methods can also accompany the use of devices. Some of these other pressure sore prevention methods include:
- Manual repositioning. Occasions occur where a patient cannot access a pressure relief device. The patient’s position should change occasionally in these occasions, or sometimes even with access to the devices, to maximize prevention.
- Improved skin care. Strong skin is more impervious to the pressure that creates bedsores, as well as other potential sources of damage.
- Improved healthy habits. Practicing good hygiene and a healthy diet increases the flow of nutrients to the skin and tissues, reinforcing them against future damage.
Acting After Substandard Treatment
The use of these pressure-relieving devices makes a difference in preventing or treating pressure sores in nursing home and hospital patients. Unfortunately, not every health facility has enough equipment for everyone or lacks the budget to afford some devices.
Contact Nursing Home Law Center LCC if you believe that a nursing home, hospital, or healthcare facility has not done enough to prevent pressure sores or injuries to yourself or a loved one. Calls us for free legal consultation.