Prevention Program Reduces Facility-Acquired Pressure Ulcers (Bed Sores) by Two-Thirds

Margaret Talley, RN was honored recently for her work on pressure ulcer prevention.  Talley, who became interested in pressure ulcer research after working as a nursing home aide, was recruited by the health care system that now employs her to help it reduce the rates at which its patients acquired pressure ulcers.  She received the national award for slashing the rates of facility-acquired pressure ulcers by two-thirds.  

Pressure ulcers (bed sores, decubitus ulcers, pressure sores) are areas of tissue death and destruction caused by unrelieved pressure for a prolonged period of time.  They occur most often among patients with limited mobility.  Pressure ulcers increase the risk of infection and result in longer hospital and nursing home stays.  Health care providers are paying more attention to pressure ulcer prevention because Medicare no longer pays for the care of facility-acquired pressure ulcers.  

Talley developed a six-point program for pressure ulcer prevention that included requirements for more accurate skin assessments on admission, better care by competent wound care teams, more frequent evaluations of all bed and support surfaces, good nutrition, standardized pressure ulcer treatment, and new orientations about skin care.   Read more about Margaret Talley and her pressure ulcer program.

Talley highlighted that "taking care of a wound is not the same as taking care of the whole patient."  She's right -- pressure ulcer prevention is about the whole patient, not just the hole in the patient.  The support Talley received from her employer was encouraging: "Having the organization 100% behind me, and so totally supportive, have been huge factors in our achieving such significant results,” she said.  Talley's success is proof that individual and organizational committment by health care providers pays dividends.

"Her actions directly and profoundly impacted the quality of health care within her hospital system,” said a representative of the health care industry about Talley.  If nursing homes and assisted living facilities commit themselves to provide better care, how many pressure ulcers would be prevented?  How many falls and fractures?  How many medication errors?  There are Margaret Talleys everywhere waiting to "directly and profoundly impact the quality of health care" in their own facilities -- now if we can just get the nursing homes and assisted living facilities that employ them to become as committed . . .  
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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