What is a “Kennedy Terminal Ulcer?”

By Nursing Home Law Center

A Kennedy Terminal Ulcer or Kennedy ulcer is a specific type of bed sore (also referred to as pressure sore, pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer) that is characterized by rapid onset and rapid tissue breakdown. The ‘Kennedy Ulcer’ was named after Karen Lou Kennedy-Evans- the nurse who discovered the medical condition.

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Like most bed sores, Kennedy ulcers are believed to develop due to poor blood circulation that results from unrelieved pressure. However, Kennedy ulcers, differ from other bed sores because of:

  • Rapid onset, a wound may go from a blister to stage 4 within hours
  • The wounds tend to grow downward, as opposed to horizontally
  • The wounds are most often located on the sacrum
  • Wounds are almost exclusive to the elderly population
  • The wounds are usually irregularly shaped, frequently described as pear shaped
  • Death occurs quickly, many patients succumb to kennedy ulcers within 24-48 hours of their onset

The treatment options for people with Kennedy ulcers are limited due rapid development and progression. Consequently, most treatment for Kennedy uclers is focused on providing pain relief.

Kennedy Terminal Ulcer

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