An increasing number of number of pressure sore cases my office is working on involve pressure sores that have developed during a hospitalization. What was once considered a sad symbol of poor nursing home care, is now increasingly associated with poor hospital care. Many of our clients who enter a hospital for acute care, wind up extending their hospitalization due to the development of a pressure sore during their stay.
Federal and State regulations require nursing homes to conduct a thorough assessment of all new admissions. The assessment evaluates the individuals skin integrity and attempts to determine who is susceptible to develop of pressure sores. This initial assessment is designed to help nursing home staff implement preventative pressure sore care.
Hospitals on the other hand, are not governed by the same regulations and consequently are not as attuned to pressure sore prevention. Many hospitals fail to train their staff to identify pressure sore risk and implement policies for pressure sore prevention.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the number of hospital patients who develop pressure sores (also known as pressure ulcers, bed sores or decubitus ulcers) has increased by 63% since 1996.
Pressure sores are caused by unrelieved pressure to the skin which cuts off blood circulation to the area. Hospitalized seniors are particularly vulnerable to development of pressure sores because many have limited mobility and may be bedridden.
Further increasing the risk of pressure sores amongst the elderly is the fact that many seniors have lost a considerable amount of muscle and fat that would normally help relieve the pressure in younger people. Most pressure sores develop in areas where there is a ‘bony’ prominence. Common areas where pressure sores develop are: the sacrum, coccyx, heels, elbows and ankles.
Pressure sores are graded by their severity (1, 2, 3 and 4). A stage 1 pressure sore may be a reddened area with some blistering. By the time a pressure sore advances to stage 4, a deep wound has developed and may also involve organs and bones. The AHRQ determined the average duration of a hospital stay for treatment of pressure sores to be 13 days, with an average cost of $37,500.
Pressure sores are preventable. Hospital staff need to focus on patients factors and take necessary steps to assure patients remain free from pressure sores during their stay. Among the steps hospitals need to take to prevent development of pressure sores are:
- Changes resident’s positioning every two hours
- Use pressure relieving air mattresses
- Make sure patients are receiving proper nutrition
- Keep the resident clean and dry
We can help you
Don’t let hospitals get away with providing substandard care. If you or a loved one has developed a pressure sore during a hospitalization, put our experience litigating pressure sore cases to work for you. We have successfully recovered money for our clients from hospitals throughout the country. Contact the pressure sore lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center for a personalized case consultation. All consultations are confidential. We will come to you.