We have numerous cases where a resident suffered horrible painful pressure ulcers because of the lack of preventative treatment. The nursing homes always claim that the pressure ulcers were “unavoidable” due to the age of the resident. A new comprehensive study disproves that claim.
This article discusses the purpose and success of preventing pressure ulcers from forming when nursing homes provide preventative care.
The Pressure Ulcer Collaborative project had been aiming for a 25 percent reduction in new occurrences of bedsores by encouraging health workers to use proven strategies to prevent skin deterioration. Instead, the 150 hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies participating reduced new bedsores on average by just over 70 percent between September 2005 and May 2007.
Bedsores, technically known as pressure ulcers, are painful, occasionally deadly skin lesions caused by unrelieved pressure that can cause infection and destroy tissue, muscle and bone if not properly treated. They also can trigger depression, affect a patient’s self-image and complicate treatment.
At the beginning of the New Jersey project, 18 percent of newly admitted patients developed a bedsore while receiving care. By the end, the rate had been cut to 5 percent of new patients, Holmes said.
Holmes said the preventive steps started with a prompt evaluation of each new patient, with every square inch of their skin examined and their risk of developing bedsores determined based on a standardized scale.
Hospitals then had to follow strategies to prevent development of bedsores. Options included shifting the patient to a new position every two hours, use of heel cushions and other padding for vulnerable pressure points, even use of special air mattresses that alternately inflate and deflate different areas, spreading pressure around.
Patients not eating or drinking enough water _ a common problem with older patients _ got a nutritional consultation because inadequate caloric intake or protein stores, as well as dehydration, can lead to skin tearing and breaking down. Frequent follow-up examinations of the skin also were required, along with new ones for patients suddenly bedridden, as after surgery.