Hospital-acquired bedsores have been linked directly to increased mortality rates of patients receiving care in hospital environments. The Journal of American Geriatrics Society published a study led by UCLA that directly correlates death rates and pressure sores acquired in hospitals. The report concludes that study patients developing decubitus ulcers (bedsores; pressure ulcers; pressure sores) had a higher incident rate of suffering a bed sore fatality during the hospital stay compared to those without pressure sores.
UCLA Study Regarding Hospital Pressure Sore Mortality
The study conducted by UCLA shows that pressure ulcers acquired in the hospital were a crucial risk factor in the death of patients. As a result, the study recommends that hospitals quickly identify any patient with a potentially high risk for developing a bedsore and take all necessary preventative measures once the patient is admitted, including creating and implementing interventions.
Using information gleaned from existing medical records, the report concluded that 4.5 percent of the hospital patients monitored in the study acquired a bedsore during their stay. The study also confirms that the odds of experiencing a bed sore fatality while hospitalized are 2.8 times greater if the patient is suffering from an existing pressure sore.
In addition, the report indicated that seniors developing pressure ulcers in the hospital require a longer stay at the medical facility. The study also claims that these affected seniors have a higher incident rate of being readmitted for additional care 30 days or less after their discharge, if they survive.
In the United States, there are at least 400,000 affected patient with skin wounds and 60,000 bedsore-related deaths every year that can be directly attributed to complications. Common areas on the body affected by pressure sores include the hips, spinal column, lower back, knees, ankles, heels, elbows, shoulder blades, buttocks, and the back of the head and arms.
Why Bedsores Are A Serious Medical Complication That Can’t Be Ignored
Bedsores are often referred to as a “silent killer” condition that affects millions of individuals nationwide every year. Pressure sores develop from prolonged pressure applied to the skin. It typically begins with a mild inflammation. However, without proper intervention, the inflammation can quickly develop into a deep wound causing significant damage to the bone and muscle. When left to deteriorate, it can develop life-threatening blood infection, along with fracture or destruction of bones and eventual death.
Pressure sores are a frequent medical complication experienced by bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients. In many incidences, the patient is immobile for extended time without the ability to shift their weight or move around. The patient may be totally incapacitated, in a coma, paralyzed, or suffering from a medical condition such as vascular disease that restricts blood flow to specific areas of the body. The pressure to the skin will reduce blood flow circulation, cutting off oxygen supply and restricting vital nutrients.
Once the skin starts to bruise, the damaged tissue can quickly die. When left to progress to advancing stages, the bed sore can develop a gaping hole that is extremely painful. In advancing stages, the condition becomes extremely difficult to manage and/or cure.
Without proper treatment, most pressure sores tend to develop quickly and can progress to advancing stages rapidly. However, with proper treatment most pressure sore conditions at Stage I and Stage II can be cured as long as crucial preventative measures are taken.
Many times, when the medical staff has not received adequate training, the pressure ulcer is never identified or assessed. As a result, the hospital staff never begins the development and implementation of an effective treatment plan. When the bedsore is not detected, the patient’s resting position is likely never turned, exacerbating the condition. In many incidences, the patient will lay the same position for hours at a time causing the sore to become much worse.
While in many hospital settings, the medical staff records pressure sores once it has reached Stage II or higher, some hospital staff do not begin grading the condition until Stage III or Stage IV. Currently there are no studies to indicate whether some hospitals use better detection, identification and reporting systems than others.
The truth is that all bedsores are preventable when identified in the early stages. However, when left unattended or improperly managed each one has the potential of developing into a bed sore fatality.