Physician Group Gives Advice on Reducing Pressure Sores

By Nursing Home Law Center

Physician Group

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have long known that the baby boomer generation will push the limits of the nursing care industry as America’s aging population enters their final years. Recently, ACP (American College of Physicians) released clinical guidelines to tackle one of the major problems facing nursing homes nationwide – pressure sores.

Statistics maintained by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that nearly 3 million individuals in the US suffer from bedsores at any given time. Up to 24 percent of the inflicted individuals reside in long-term care nursing homes and another 38 percent are receiving treatment in acute care hospitals. A third group of nearly 17 percent suffer from pressure sores in an at-home care environment.

Bedsores are Big Business– or Risk– for Medical Facilities

Statistics indicate that more than $11 billion are spent each year to treat bedsores in the US. Because of that, following specific evidence-based recommendations to prevent pressure sores can help improve the quality of life of the patient and minimize the increasing expense of healthcare. The incident rate and severity of pressure ulcers are often based on various factors including the length of stay at the hospital, the accuracy of the diagnosis, the measurement of potential risks and the harm a bedsore causes including dermatological reactions and the potential of acquiring an infection.

Preventable Measures

ACP provides numerous recommendations in their prevention guideline to minimize the potential risk of any patient developing a bedsore, especially those known to have an elevated risk. These recommendations include:

Risk Assessment Needed to Create Care Plans for Each Patient

It is essential that clinicians perform a comprehensive risk assessment of the patient as a way to identify any individual at high risk of developing bedsores. Specific factors that need to be considered in the risk assessment include:

  • The age of the patient because older individuals tend to be at greater risk of developing pressure ulcers
  • Hispanic or black race ethnicity
  • Lower body weight
  • Physical impairment
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Any comorbid condition that could affect healing and soft tissue integration that could include fecal or urinary incontinence, edema, diabetes, hypoalbuminemia, impaired microcirculation or malnutrition

Use of Pressure-Relieving Devices to Eliminate Pressure and Wound Development

Clinicians should consider using advanced static overlays and advanced static mattresses for patients known to be at increased potential risk of developing a bedsore. However, alternating-air overlays or alternating-air mattresses should be avoided for use in any patient known to have an increase potential risk of developing a decubitus ulcer.

Treatment Modalities

The ACP guideline also includes essential treatment modalities proven effective at minimizing the time required to heal an existing pressure ulcer. This includes providing the patient with an amino acid/protein supplementation known to be effective at reducing the size of the wound. In addition, the patient should receive foam or hydrocolloid dressings known to reduce the size of the wound as well as adjunct therapy including electrical stimulation that can accelerate the amount of time required to heal the wound completely.

To be effective, the treatment of bedsores needs to involve multiple effective tactics known to alleviate pressure sores or any condition that contributes to its development including nutritional support, body repositioning and support surfaces. The existing sore needs to be free of contamination and maintained in a sterile environment to promote tissue healing. This would include wound cleansing, debridement and local wound applications that require adjunct therapies or possible repair through surgery.

A Preventable Condition

Nearly every incident of a developing bedsore is the result of negligence by the caregiver. Because of that, families of loved ones who suffer from a pressure sore often take legal action against the nursing facility, hospital or medical staff who were negligent in their actions and directly or indirectly caused the patient harm.

The nursing home abuse attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC (800) 926-7565 serve as legal advocates against residence in patients who have suffered a facility-acquired pressure sore. We accept these types of financial compensation cases on contingency and provide immediate legal representation without the need of an upfront fee.

Related Information

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources

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