According to researchers, roughly 159,000 residents in American nursing homes had bedsore symptoms in 2004. Of these individuals, stage 2 bedsores, or pressure ulcers, were the most common. These symptoms typically develop due to unrelieved pressure on the skin. Known as bed sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, this medical condition indicates the quality of care in nursing homes. Although bedsores are more likely in immobile residents, they are more likely to occur or be untreated in a nursing home that does not follow standard care procedures.
Presently, 1 in 5 residents at nursing homes has lost weight due to bedsore symptoms. Individuals who are younger than 64 or who have been in a nursing home for less than a year were more likely to develop bedsores. An estimated 2 to 28 percent of residents suffer from bedsore symptoms at any given point in time. Pressure ulcers are typically more common in males than females, with 13 percent of men and 10 percent of women suffering from them.
When someone is not moved or rolled frequently enough, they may develop pressure ulcers on their body. The most common places are normally over bony areas like the back of the head, the back, the elbow, hips or heels. In stage one, the area develops redness and may be thinner. By stage 2, the skin will lose thickness and a shallow crater develops. Stage 3 bedsores are determined by the development of a deep crater or severe decrease in the thickness of the skin. With stage 4 bedsores, the thickness of the skin has deteriorated so much that muscle or bone may be exposed.
The main thing that increases the rates of bedsores is high immobility. If the resident is unable to move or moves infrequently from their bed, they are more likely to develop bedsore symptoms. Residents who are totally dependent on nursing home staff to be moved are much more likely to have bedsores than their more mobile counterparts. Likewise, individuals who require special wound care services or who suffer from incontinence are more likely to have bedsores.
Since immobility is linked to bedsore symptoms, the first goal of treatment is to get the patient moving. If the individual is in a wheelchair, they should be moved every 15 minutes. Individuals who are stuck in their bed need to be shifted every two hours. This helps to reduce the pressure on the hips and decrease friction injuries.
Nutrition and exercise can help to prevent bedsores if they are properly implemented. A diet rich in vitamins, fats and nutrients can help prevent a variety of illnesses from occurring. Additionally, exercise can help to increase blood flow in the body. A daily exercise program can help prevent bedsores, and it can also improve other medical conditions.
Each day, the nursing home resident or the medical staff should inspect the skin. All of the surface of the skin should be checked for any signs of infections, smell changes, damage or tenderness. Bandages should be changed on a daily basis and the skin should be kept dry.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about one out of ten nursing home residents suffer from bedsores at any moment in time. Bedsore symptoms are common among highly immobile residents, but it can also be a sign of poor quality care. Although it is the responsibility of nursing homes to treat and prevent bedsores, this does not always happen. If you or a loved one suffers from bedsores, you have legal remedies available. You can seek compensation for the abuse and neglect through the help of a skilled attorney.