legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Bed Sores Continue to Plague Nursing Home & Hospital Patients in all Demographics
Nursing homes and hospitals are supposed to offer professional treatment and care to their residents and patients. Despite this, numerous cases of patients developing bedsores (also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers) still occur while staying at these facilities. These conditions continue to prevail in health-focused locations and affect patients of all demographics.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) displayed the frequency of bedsore cases in nursing homes, as well as the specific demographics more affected by the wounds. According to the study, one in every ten nursing home residents developed a pressure ulcer. The most prominent type of bedsore is a stage II, which is essentially a painful blister. Out of those patients, only 35% of them received proper attention and treatment. In addition, patients 64 years of age or younger, patients who stayed for less than a year at a facility, and male patients were more likely to develop bedsores than the others. There was no difference in prevalence of bedsores between white and nonwhite patients.
Hospitals are not free from scrutiny either. According to a study performed on Medicare patients in hospitals across three states, the rate of bedsores dropped by 40% between 2009 and 2014. The researchers pointed out, however, that most of the declines occurred only in stage I or II sores, while the more severe wounds in stages III and above were left untouched.
Nursing home and hospital staff can take preventative measures to stop the emergence of pressure sores. Most of these methods are simple and require vigilance and care of the patient, particularly if he or she cannot move. The following methods can prevent bedsores from developing:
- Shifting the patient’s weight constantly to stop pressure from building up in a specific spot
- Using a specialty wheelchair or cushion designed to relieve stress
- Adjusting the patient’s bed elevation to prevent friction and shearing
- Keeping the patient’s skin clean and dry to prevent wounding the skin
- Changing the patient’s bedding and clothes to stop the chance for any infections
- Making sure the patient consumes a healthy diet rich in nutrients and fluids
Not every bedsore is easily preventable. A caregiver must remain vigilant in the patient’s skin care, and identify any possibility of a pressure ulcer. The symptoms of a new or developing bedsore include:
- Abnormal changes to skin color or texture
- Pus or other liquid draining from the area
Pressure sores can appear in any bony part of the body, but bedridden and wheelchair-confined patients usually develop sores in different body areas. The body parts to look for in a bedridden patient include:
- Shoulder blades
- Hip, lower back, or tailbone
- Sides or back of the head
- Ankles, heels, and behind the knees
People confined to a wheelchair usually manifest pressure ulcers in the following body areas:
- Buttocks or tailbone
- Parts of arms and legs that usually rest against the chair
- Shoulder blades and spine
Once caregivers identify a bedsore, they must take measures to keep the wound from growing worse. Most of these methods are simple, can spare the patient a lot of pain and suffering, and spare the facility bad press and lawsuits.
Some of the commonly used methods to treat bedsores include:
- Improving Skin Health. The encouragement of a stronger, less fragile skin can heal pressure sores faster. Skin gains strength via nutrients and medications. The skin must remain clean and dry. Blood flow should also be increased through constant movement and relocation of the patient.
- Changing the Environment. The pressure experienced by an immobile patient can impair the healing of the skin. Environmental changes are needed to decrease as much of that pressure as possible, such as an improved seating position, a positioning schedule, and improved wheelchair cushions and mattresses.
- Healing the Wound. Depending on the stage of the wound, there are different methods to heal it. A wound in stage I is usually just protected with dressing and cleaning. A stage II wound is also covered, but cleaned with saline. The wound is weak enough to remove by rinsing. Any sore that reaches stage III and above needs treatment and removal by a medical professional.
Responding to Negligence with Legal Action
Nursing homes and hospitals are supposed to function as a safe space for the elderly. A condition like bedsores should not occur in these places, especially when preventing these injuries is simple and these locations should present top-notch healthcare.
If you or a loved one developed bed sores at a hospital or a nursing home due to neglect or malpractice, you have the option of taking legal action by calling an attorney specializing in personal injuries. Contact Nursing Home Law Center LLC for a free legal consultation.