An educational journal for nurses recently reported that more than one million individuals develop pressure ulcers (also known as pressure sores, bed sores, and decubitus ulcers) annually. It is estimated that 11% of residents in skilled-care and nursing homes facilities suffer from pressure ulcers, 10% in acute care, and 4.4% in home care. In hospitals, the incidence of pressure ulcers ranges from 2.7% to 29.5%. According to the journal, pressure ulcers negatively affect a patient's quality of life and are associated with an increased incidence of medical complications, infection, and death. Every year an estimated 60,000 people die from complications related to pressure ulcers.
Litigation related to pressure ulcers is increasing due to closer scrutiny of care by the patient, the patient's family, government agencies, and the media. Many facilities have been found liable in civil lawsuits for poor pressure ulcer management. According to the article, a review of medical malpractice cases regarding patients at risk for pressure ulcers in long-term care facilities indicated that the patient achieved a verdict or settlement in 68% of cases, and the median monetary recovery was $250,000. Another recent study in hospitals and long-term care facilities reported that the patient achieved a verdict or settlement in 78% of cases involving pressure ulcers. They also found that the monetary recovery for patients whose pressure ulcers were caused by poor nutrition alone was almost five times higher than the monetary recovery for patients whose pressure ulcers were caused by poor pressure management alone.
It is possible to prevent these sores. The journal article found that facilities that have implemented pressure ulcer prevention and treatment protocols have demonstrated a decrease in the incidence and prevalence of pressure ulcers. Indeed, focusing on preventing pressure ulcers may be more beneficial since prevention has been shown to be more cost-effective than treatment methods. Hence, aggressive prevention and treatment strategies (including nutritional intervention) can reduce the incidence and costs associated with pressure ulcers, improve patient quality of life, and decrease the risk of litigation. For more, please read the article.
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.
Posted on Fri, March 27, 2009
by Robert Carter filed under