Throughout Illinois nursing homes and hospitals, pressure sores remain a major medical issue that thousands of patients face every year. Pressure sores are frequently caused by neglect or carelessness in handling patients and nursing home residents. In 2003, over 455,000 cases of hospital patients with pressure sores were recorded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In 2008, research statistics from a University of California-San Francisco study revealed that over eight percent of all nursing home residents suffered from pressure sores. It is clear that at a nationwide and state level, pressure sores remain a serious issue that must be addressed by nursing homes and hospitals. If these entities fail to take precautionary measures or protect the safety of residents and patients, then it may be necessary for victims to pursue legal action against these entities. A personal injury lawyer can assist the family members of victims who suffer from pressure sores in filing a lawsuit against a medical facility.
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) has identified measures that health care organizations can take to help control the increase in the number of patients who develop pressure sores in medical facilities. These measures include identifying people who may be at risk for developing pressure sores as well as the factors placing these individuals at risk. A health care organization must also create a plan that addresses the treatment of bed-ridden patients to alleviate pressure and prevent injuries within them. Health care organizations must also reduce the number of pressure sores in patients by educating staff members. Staff members need to have the opportunity to participate in staff education programs.
Pressure Sore Statistics in Nursing Homes
It is vital that nursing homes in Illinois take active steps to identify residents who are at-risk for developing pressure ulcers. The NPUAP has discovered that a majority of patients develop pressure ulcers within the initial days or weeks of their admission in a health care setting. There are also external factors that can place patients at a greater risk for developing pressure ulcers. These external factors include the following:
- Smoking history
- Dry skin
- Age 70 or older
- Mental health issues
- Urinary incontinence
- Impaired mobility
- Low body mass index
- Use of physical restraints
When these external factors go unacknowledged upon a patient’s admission into a nursing home, he or she is at a much greater risk for developing pressure ulcers. Nursing homes have a duty to create a specialized care plan for patients when they are admitted into a nursing home. It is important that this care plan include specific steps that can be taken to help patients who may be at risk for developing pressure ulcers.
Key findings from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 159,000 U.S. nursing home residents suffered from pressure sores in 2004. The majority of the patients who had pressure sores were suffering from Stage Two pressure sores. It was also more common for residents ages 64 and under to suffer from pressure ulcers. Those who were only staying in the nursing home for under one year were more susceptible for developing pressure ulcers than those who had a longer stay.
A Stage Two pressure ulcer can cause serious pain and other medical issues for patients. A Stage Two pressure ulcer has the following characteristics:
- Broken or worn skin
- Tenderness and swelling
- Severe pain
- Scrapes and blisters
- Dead skin
It may be impossible for people to heal their skin after they suffer from Stage Two pressure ulcers. Over 35 percent of nursing home residents have been discovered to have pressure ulcers at a Stage Two or higher level. In the future, Illinois nursing homes must be conscious of the risk that patients have for developing pressure sores.
Patients in Illinois nursing homes have been discovered to require specialized skin care. The University of California-San Francisco research study found that 78 percent of nursing home residents required special skin care in 2008. From 2003 to 2007, 67 to 78 percent of nursing home residents also required special skin care in Illinois nursing homes. In the future, nursing home staff workers must take extra care to actually provide special skin care for patients who require this care.
The patients who are at-risk for developing pressure sores must be identified, and administrators must ensure that a specialized care plan is created for these patients. Otherwise, a nursing home may be at risk for failing to uphold its legal duty of care that is required under the law. Residents’ family members may have a cause of action based on a claim of neglect or abuse if nursing homes fail to provide the care that residents need to avoid developing pressure sores.
Pressure Sore Statistics in Hospitals
Pressure sores also remain a serious issue that has been left unaddressed by hospitals. Statistics from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) revealed that there has been a 63 percent increase in the number of individuals suffering from pressure sores during a hospital stay from 1993 to 2003. In 1993, pressure ulcers were found in 233,000 hospital stays. That figure has increased to 455,000 hospital stays in 2003.
The average cost of providing treatment for a pressure ulcer is about $37,500. Pressure sores can be extremely costly for hospitals and their insurance companies, so it is important that hospitals be active in providing prevention care for patients at risk for developing pressure sores during a hospital stay. Even Florence Nightingale noted in her writings that pressure sores were frequently a result of inadequate nursing care, saying that if a patient has a bedsore, “it is generally not the fault of the disease, but of the nursing.”
The NDUAP reports that the incidence of pressure sores also ranges due to the type of hospital setting. Pressure sore incident rates are 0.4 percent to 38 percent within hospitals, while they are only 2.2 percent to 24 percent in skilled nursing facilities. Pressure sores can also develop within a short span of time, so it is important that staff workers be aware of the medical condition of patients at all times. The NDUAP report has found that pressure sores can develop in two to six hours. It is necessary to quickly identify at-risk patients so that appropriate treatment can be provided to them as soon as possible.
If a patient does develop a pressure sore, then hospital staff workers must provide treatment and may also need to administer pain management treatments for patients. Patients typically suffer from severe pain that can also lead to distress and depression. Patients may require special wound management, massage or medications to manage pain after they have developed pressure sores.
It is also important that hospital staff workers continue to monitor the healing process of patients who have pressure ulcers. Family members of patients who have pressure sores should be aware of the steps that staff workers are taking to monitor the healing of patients who have pressure sores. Staff workers should be consulting the Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing (PUSH) or the Bates-Jensen Wound Assessment Tool (BWAT) to monitor the shape and growth of the ulcer.
Conditions Resulting from Pressure Sores
As you can see from the statistics, pressure sores continue to be a serious issue experienced by thousands of patients in hospitals and nursing home settings. If patients are not provided with the treatment that they need, then they may be at risk for suffering from other serious medical conditions. A person who develops a pressure sore may also experience the other following conditions:
- Lack of sensory perception
- Pneumonia and contagious illnesses
- Weakened immune system
- Severe abrasions and wounds
- Medical conditions affecting circulation
- Muscle spasms
- Severe bruising
- Blood loss
If a patient suffers from any of these conditions, then family members should pay attention. Family members can stand up for the rights of their loved ones by getting in touch with a personal injury lawyer in Illinois. Illinois bed sore lawyers can assist individuals in the process of filing a lawsuit and obtaining a settlement. A patient who has suffered from pressure sores may be entitled to compensation for his or her pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.
3. “Nursing Facilities, Staffing, Residents and Facility Deficiencies” 2003-2008. University of California San Francisco.