Hospital Patients are More Likely to Develop Decubitus Ulcers Today Than They Were 10 Years ago

By Nursing Home Law Center

Bedsores Development Hospitalization

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a report on hospital-acquired decubitus ulcers that has conclusively determined that hospital patients today are more likely to develop a decubitus ulcer during their admission than their counterparts 10 years ago. In fact, the rate of decubitus ulcers (pressure ulcers, pressure sores or bed sores) acquired during a hospitalization has increased by more than 80% from 1993 to 2006!

In addition to higher overall rate of decubitus ulcers, the study also revealed the following information regarding the development of hospital-acquired decubitus ulcers:

  • In 2006, there were 503,300 hospital patients were admitted with a primary diagnosis of ‘decubitus ulcer’ — this marks an increase of approximately 80% since 1993.

  • The cost of treating decubitus ulcers at hospitals was approximately $11 billion annually.

  • The overwhelming majority of cases (>90%) involving decubitus ulcer care involved patients who were admitted for unrelated medical care.

  • Patients discharged from a hospital following treatment for a decubitus ulcer generally fared worse than other types of patients with a lower survival rate within the first year of hospital discharge.

  • Patients who developed decubitus ulcers during a hospitalization tended to be older. 72% of decubitus ulcer patients over 65-years old had a secondary diagnosis of decubitus ulcers and 56.5% of elderly hospital patients who received decubitus ulcer treatment was due to a primary diagnosis of decubitus ulcers that had developed during their hospital stay.

  • Medicare was the largest payer of for care of patients with decubitus ulcers– paying approximately 75% of all charges related to decubitus ulcer care.

  • Younger patients who received treatment for decubitus ulcers tended to be paralyzed or have spinal cord injuries.

Most cases involving the development of decubitus ulcers during a hospitalization result from the hospitals failure to monitor at-risk patients and implement interventions on a timely basis. Consequently, patients who develop a decubitus ulcer during a hospital admission may be entitled to pursue against the hospital based on medical negligence.

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