Upon entering a nursing home, staff must conduct an assessment of various aspects of patient needs in order to assure the best possible care. Federal law requires that part of the assessment incorporate both a skin assessment to determine if the patient has any existing pressure sores and to develop a plan of care to help ensure that the patient doesn’t develop any bed sores (also referred to as: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers) during their admission.
Universally accepted, nursing homes typically incorporate the Braden Scale (or officially known as Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Sore Risk), which uses an objective system to evaluate each patient’s risk for developing pressure sores in the following areas:
- Sensory perception
- Friction and shear
While the initial assessment may prove to be useful in pressure sore prevention, facilities must continually monitor each patient to determine if the patient’s needs change. Facilities must remember that any patient can theoretically develop conditions that put him or her at risk for developing pressure sores. Yes, even relatively healthy and young patients must be monitored by staff to help starve off wounds in an early a stage as possible.
I was reminded of this ongoing duty to monitor the skin integrity needs of all nursing home patients after learning about a recently filed wrongful death lawsuit involving a Pennsylvania nursing home.
The Altoon Mirror reported that the wife of a deceased nursing home patient filed the lawsuit after her husband developed multiple bed sores during his stay. The bed sores became infected and eventually required surgical treatment at a nearby hospital and an admission to a wound care clinic, before the man eventually succumb to the wounds.
The federal court lawsuit claims that Valley View Home failed to provide sufficient care for the man during his stay — in part due to the fact that he was allegedly at ‘low risk’ for developing pressure sores according to his initial skin care assessment on admission and appeared to be physically strong as he was able to get about on his own.
As this lawsuit makes its way though the court system, families need to be tuned in to the fact that bed sores remain a significant threat to the well being of all patients and they are a condition that is far easier to prevent than treat.
For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.
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