Nurse's Innovative Research Slashes Pressure Ulcer (Bed Sore) Rates

A nurse at the Memphis VA Medical Center is leading the charge to prevent pressure ulcers (bed sores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers).  Suzy Scott, RN has been researching pressure ulcers for about twenty years, and her research has reduced pressure ulcers significantly at her facility.  She has used statistical tracking and other methods to cut pressure ulcers by 65 percent, which has saved the VA an estimated $3.1 million in four years.  She has also researched the benefits of a special pressure-relieving pad.  The pad, called a "dolphin pad," mimics the natural buoyancy of water and was designed for the Navy to transport trained dolphins and seals for mine detection and harbor defense.  Read more about Scott's pressure ulcer research. 

Pressure ulcers are areas of tissue death that result when blood flow has been interrupted by unrelieved pressure for a prolonged period of time.  In severe cases, pressure ulcers can eat to the bone and result in serious infection.  Starting October 1, 2008, Medicare will no longer pay hospitals to treat facility-acquired pressure ulcers.  Some private insurers are following Medicare's lead and are refusing to pay hospitals for facility-acquired pressure ulcers. 

Pressure ulcers are almost always preventable, and they are as much a sign of neglect and abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities as in hospitals.  You want nursing homes and assisted living facilities to improve their pressure ulcer prevention and treatment?  Expand the new policy of non-payment by Medicare and private insurers to nursing homes and assisted living facilities that allow pressure ulcers to develop and deteriorate in their facilities.  If these facilities risk not getting paid, I guarantee they will improve their pressure ulcer prevention, work tirelessly to heal pressure ulcers that develop in-house, and slash the rates of pressure ulcers and ulcer-related complications across the board.  Money talks . . . whether it's in the form of a jury verdict or non-payment for preventable medical errors like pressure ulcers.           

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