Bedsores, also known as decubitus or pressure ulcers, kill more patients each year than every type of cancer, except lung cancer, according to a study by a top UCLA researcher. Furthermore, the U.S. spends $26.8 billion a year on treatment costs for bedsores.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says pressure ulcers harm more patients in skilled nursing facilities than any other issue. While other hospital-acquired conditions such as surgical infections and adverse drug interactions have declined, bedsore cases continue to rise.
What causes bedsores?
Decubitus ulcers develop due to prolonged pressure on the skin, mostly affecting people with limited mobility. Once a wound appears, it can be too late to stop infection because they develop inside the body. The areas typically affected include:
- Buttocks, tailbone and hips
- Back of the head
- Backs and sides of knees
- Should blades
- Heels of the feet
Bedsores are preventable
With proper care, patients should never develop significant bedsores. Even when slight redness exists on the skin, significant health problems can be avoided by:
- Repositioning them every two hours if confined to a bed
- For patients in wheelchairs, change their position every 15 minutes
- Placing soft padding on beds or wheelchairs
- Ensuring a patient’s skin is clean and dry
- Meeting nutritional needs for patients
Reporting nursing home negligence
Experts say nearly all bedsores are easily avoided, but too many skilled nursing providers fall short. Many Georgia providers cut costs by reducing staff, leading to high patient-to-nurse ratios. Also, some staff members consider repositioning and cleaning residents as unpleasant chores.
Nursing homes are required to provide quality care for their patients and must be held accountable when they neglect that duty. An experienced elder abuse injury attorney can help families get their loved ones the care they deserve and receive compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and when negligence causes wrongful death.