Don’t Let the Bedsores Bite
Bedsores are the bane of a good health care facility.
When a patient lies or sits, they put persistent pressure on body tissue. Pressure exerted for an extended period of time cuts off the oxygen supply to the tissue, slowly killing it. The result is a pressure ulcer, more commonly known as a bedsore. Ranging from superficial sores to bone-deep wounds, pressure ulcers are painful and dangerous. The long-term care industry is especially susceptible to
bedsores, since so many of our clients spend extended periods lying in bed, sitting in wheelchairs, or otherwise immobile. Our perpetual crusade against bedsores is being picked up by hospitals now, as they realize how debilitating and painful the ulcers can be. A recent New York Times article highlighted some of the techniques hospitals are using in their attempt to upgrade their pressure ulcer care and prevent bedsores. Pressure ulcers are caused by immobility, poor nutrition, dehydration, and incontinence, alone and in combination. Therefore, reducing pressure ulcers is a group effort, requiring the participation of doctors, nurses, and nutritionists. The article followed a group of facilities that banded together to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of bedsores among their constituents. The facility decided that less waiting would mean less sitting and lying. So they sped up service at their beauty salon and dining room, so residents would spend less time immobile, and more time moving. They even instituted buffet dining, to force residents to keep moving. Nutrition was another problem innovatively addressed. Those with a higher risk for bedsores were moved into wheelchairs for transport to meals later and brought back earlier, so they wouldn’t be sitting and waiting for as long. Protein powers were added to food to boost nutrition, and patients suffering weight loss received color coded plates so nurses would know to encourage them to eat. Interestingly, these measures were found effective mostly against the deepest pressure wounds, which begin deep down by the bone, and open up on the skin fully formed.~ L. Gordon