Article Revisits Pressure Ulcer (Pressure Sore, Bed Sore, Bedsore, Decubitus Ulcer) Prevention

According to a recent online news feature entitled "Trouble Afoot" in McKnight's Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living, pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers) are occurring more frequently across all patient populations, including those in nursing homes.  Because patients with complex conditions are living longer, pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers) will become more prevalent, the article adds. 
 
Pressure ulcers (pressure sore, bed sore, bedsore, decubitus ulcer) are best treated by preventing them, commented Micki Bell, RN, a Philadelphia-based national clinical director.  The effective prevention of pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers) includes good hygiene, frequent turning and repositioning, good nutrition, and the use of support surfaces that minimizes and redistributes pressure while patients are in bed and chairs.
 
Effective pressure ulcer (pressure sore, bed sore, bedsore, decubitus ulcer) treatment in the past has included hydrogel dressings, which create a moist environment for proper healing and can be used to debride wounds.  Newer therapies are also being used:  silver therapies; negative pressure; non-contact ultrasound; and bioengineered skin grafting.  Once healed, most pressure ulcers (pressure sore, bed sore, bedsore, decubitus ulcer) redevelop because direct care providers relax their preventative efforts and permit continued pressure on the areas around the healed wounds.  Effective training and staff education is critical to proper pressure ulcer (pressure sore, bed sore, bedsore, decubitus ulcer) prevention, the timely and accurate identification of these wounds, and to their treatment.
 
Unfortunately, this article fails to mention the single most important way in which pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers) are prevented and treated  -- adequate staffing.  When nursing homes and assisted living facilities are adequately staffed, they are able to meet and sometimes exceed the needs of patients who are at risk for developing pressure ulcers.  In those cases, pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, bedsores, decubitus ulcers) either don't develop or, once developed, heal quickly and without complication.  
 
When, however, facilities are understaffed, patients seldom receive proper hygiene, seldom are turned and repositioned as frequently as they need to be, do not receive proper nutritional support, and are not given support surfaces that help prevent and treat these wounds.  Unless and until nursing homes and assisted living facilities properly staff themselves, all pressure ulcers are preventable and avoidable. 
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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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