Hospitals Use Mattresses to Reduce Bed Sores

By Nursing Home Law Center

Hospital Equipment

Hospital-acquired bedsores are a major concern in today’s health care industry. This is because bedsores (pressure sores; pressure ulcers; decubitus ulcers) can be easily prevented through proven nursing practices and protocols. In 2008, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) changed their policy of paying the exorbitant expense incurred in treating a hospital-acquired bedsore, which is a cost that now must be absorbed by the facility instead of Medicare. As a result, many hospitals and skilled nursing facilities have begun using pressure relief mattresses as an effective solution to reduce the development of a bedsore.

Pressure relief mattresses can prevent hospital-acquired decubitus ulcers through dispersing skin-damaging pressure from the body’s bony protrusions. Most bed pad systems and pressure relief mattresses disperse the pressure by providing alternating pressure through air chambers to other areas of the body.

How Bedsores Develop in Hospital Patients

Bedsores refer to ulcerated skin and underlying tissue that is damaged by continuous pressure and irritation on some part of the body. The pressure sore commonly develops on bony prominences where bone is close to the surface of the skin such as on the hips, heels, ankles, toes, feet, sacrum, shoulders, shoulder blades and the back of the head. The compression to underlying tissue and skin can cause damage to blood vessels. However, friction can also form bedsores where the rubbing of skin, such as dragging a body part across the surface of the bed or wheelchair can produce significant damage that develops into an open wound.

Typically, mobility-challenged patients are most susceptible to developing pressure ulcers, especially if the individual spends long periods sitting in a wheelchair or lying in bed. The potential of developing a bedsore is intensified if the patient suffers from various maladies and medical conditions including:

  • Seriously ill persons including those in the intensive care unit
  • Patient suffering a spinal cord injury and unable to move their extremities
  • Individuals who are malnourished, dehydrated or suffer conditions developed by a poor diet
  • Smokers
  • Diabetic persons with minimal sensation to feel pain in certain body parts
  • Patients who suffer incontinence where feces or urine against the skin can cause damage
  • Individuals suffering with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Patients who suffer with poor circulation in the arms or legs caused by atheroma, a peripheral vascular disease
Grading Pressure Sores Based on Their Severity

Bedsores look quite different from one another depending on the severity of the condition. However, medical staff categorizes pressure sores in four different stages including:

  • Stage I – The skin appears permanently reddened without being broken. It can feel slightly swollen, hard or warm.

  • Stage II – The bedsore displays an abrasion or blister.

  • Stage III – The sore has damaged the skin’s full thickness with minimal damage to underlying skin tissue.

  • Stage IV – This life-threatening pressure sore is deep, exposing significant damage to bone, muscle and ligaments underneath.

Using Mattresses and Other Devices to Prevent Bedsores

To minimize the potential of developing a facility-acquired bedsore, nursing staff must follow best practices to prevent the condition. This includes assessing the patients at risk of developing a bedsore, which is usually performed by qualified healthcare professional. This assessment must be routinely reviewed because the patient’s situation can change. Protocols to minimize the development of a pressure sore include:

  • Change the position of the patient as much as possible including repositioning the body in a chair or bed no less than one time every two hours
  • Support the patient’s feet
  • Keep the patient hydrated and nourished
  • Routinely assess the skin to look for any detectable sign of a sore
  • Use pressure-relieving mattresses and pad systems

An untreated decubitus ulcer can easily become infected and spread to the bone (osteomyelitis) or to blood (blood poisoning or septicemia).

What to do if Your Loved One Have Acquired a Bed Sore?

If you, or your loved one, have developed a facility-acquired bedsore while in a skilled nursing home or hospital, you might be entitled to receive financial compensation for your damages. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (800) 926-7565 can provide numerous legal solutions to hold those responsible for causing your harm financially accountable. We accept medical malpractice and hospital negligence cases on contingency.

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