In Order to Prevent Pressure Sores, it is Important to Analyze the Factors That Make a Person Susceptible to Developing Them

By Nursing Home Law Center

Pressure Sore Risk Factor

Unfortunately, many patients in nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities will develop a bed sore (similarly called: pressure sore, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer) at some point during their admission. When it comes to bed sore prevention, the first order of business is to determine who is at risk for developing the condition and implement preventative measures. Studies have revealed that patients with one or more of the following conditions are at a heightened risk for developing bed sores compared with the general population.

Determining Who is at Risk

However, when it comes to bed sore prevention, the first order of business is to determine who is at risk for developing the condition and implement preventative measures. Studies have revealed that patients with one or more of the following conditions are at a heightened risk for developing bed sores compared with the general population:

  • Age: As we age our skin becomes thinner and we lose muscle mass. The reduction in skin and muscle mass translates to less natural cushioning on the bony parts of our body— those areas particularly susceptible to bed sore development. Poor nutrition is another culprit that can make older people more likely to develop bed sores than their peers. Studies have shown that patients over 70 have the highest incidence of bed sores than any other demographic.

  • Living in a Nursing Home: Compared with patients in hospitals and other living situations, nursing home residents the higher rates of bed sores. Statistically speaking, part of the reason that bed sores are more common in nursing home patients is due to the fact that many of the patients are in weakened condition. Other reasons that nursing home patients remain more likely to develop bed sores include:

  • Immobilization: Such as people who are recovering from a hip fracture or who are in a coma.

  • Lack of Pain Perception: A loss of sensation may be due to a spinal cord injuries or disease. An inability to perceive pain means the patient is not aware when they’re uncomfortable and need to change positions or that a bedsore is forming.

  • Incontinence: The caustic nature of urine and feces makes the skin more susceptible to breakdown and speeds the development of bed sores.

  • Malnutrition: A poor diet does more than contribute to weight loss. Inadequate intake of vital nutrients such as: protein, zinc and vitamin C can contribute to skin breakdown and also hinder the bodies ability to heal existing pressure sores. Compared with patients who have a healthy diet, patients suffering from malnutrition frequently experience recurrent pressure sores, more severe infections and slower healing wounds.

  • Diabetes: Diabetes and vascular disease affects blood circulation and consequently areas of the body may not receive adequate blood flow and nutrients, increasing the chance of damage to tissue.

  • Contractures: Frozen or contracted joints make movement to reduce pressure difficult and put added stress on the body resulting in increases in friction and shear forces—that can add to the development of pressure sores.

  • Smoking: In addition to higher incidence of pressure sores, smokers have more severe wounds and delayed healing due to the fact that nicotine impairs circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. Patients who are life-long smokers are particularly slow to heal from wounds related to pressure ulcers.

Even after the risk factors for developing pressure sores is identified, nursing home staff must be vigilant with their prevention techniques in order to assure the highest quality of life for all patients.

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