For many individuals, especially the ill, disabled and elderly, spending extended amounts of time lying or sitting in the same position is unavoidable. For those individuals who cannot move about, or hardly move at all, the potential of developing bedsores increases significantly. A bedsore (pressure sore; pressure ulcer; decubitus ulcer) is caused by pressure on the body, which can kill or damage skin and result in an open life-threatening wound.
Unfortunately, bedsores are an all too common occurrence in medical facility environments including assisted-living homes and nursing homes. Even though medical professionals are trained to provide quality care, many are often challenged with keeping patients bedsore free. As a result, some nursing homes are turning to outside wound care specialists for help.
How Bedsores Develop
A bedsore is caused when pressure is applied the skin, reducing the flow of blood to the area. The pressure can be nothing more than the weight of the patient’s body on a mattress or chair, or one body part resting on another. Without adequate blood flow, the skin starts to die within hours from lack of oxygen and nutrients. If left untreated, an ulcer will begin to develop in the area, causing an open wound, which can easily damage muscle and bone.
Pressure ulcers are more likely to occur in individuals who are bed bound or wheelchair-bound for an extended time. The elderly are highly susceptible, as are those suffering specific medical conditions and diseases that affect the flow of blood including vascular conditions and diabetes. Individuals that have fragile skin, are malnourished, unable to move due to paralysis from brain/spine injury, or suffer from bowel or urinary incontinence are also at great risk.
Bringing in Outside Help After a Wound Progresses
Many nursing homes are overwhelmed with managing their elderly, sick or disabled patients. In many incidences, the home is understaffed or their professionals lack specific training on minimizing the development of pressure sores. As a result, many of their patients do not receive the extensive wound care necessary to eliminate the potential of Stage I or Stage II pressure sores progressing to advancing stages. (look here for more discussion on the stages of bed sores)
Wound management methods and techniques are complex and advancements in treating wounds are evolving. As a result, wound care specialists can provide a unique option for nursing homes by bringing in outside teams of expert physicians and staff trained specifically in managing bedsores directly to the patient’s bedside.
In many incidences, using skilled professionals who specialize in the chronic wounds using multidisciplinary methods have produced phenomenal results. In many incidences, nursing home patients see a reduction in the size of their bedsore by up to 25 percent in the first month.
Qualified Bedside Treatment
The outside medical professionals brought to the patient’s bedside are highly skilled in providing the best treatment for the patient. In addition to developing and implementing a multidisciplinary approach to care for the wound, the staff also educates nursing facility medical staff on the best practices of using wound dressings and other proven methods involving effective healing tools.
Additionally, the outside medical professionals brought into help heal the patient’s bedsores use a hands-on approach, by debriding wounds on patients suffering with necrotic tissue or slough. As a result, the patient’s wound tends to heal quicker, minimizing the need for hospital readmission or transfer to other clinics.
Properly managing chronic issues tend to decrease morbidity. For many patients, preventing the advancement of an existing bedsore allows them the ability to rehabilitate from an illness or condition more quickly.
The Need for Outside Help
Statistics maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicate there is a significant rise in the number of individuals suffering from bedsores. These numbers have escalated to 63 percent more annual cases than just a decade ago. Many of these cases are occurring at nursing homes across the nation.
Many nursing care facilities have serious problems with managing wound care on their patients afflicted with bedsores. In many incidences, the patient’s Stage I or Stage II pressure sore will progress to a life-threatening condition while under the care of the nursing home staff. As a result, the numbers of lawsuits against nursing homes are on the rise. These suits are filed by surviving family members of victims who have died from bedsores acquired while at the nursing facility.