"Team Approach" Prevents Serious Pressure Ulcers (Bed Sores) in Nursing Homes

New research proves that almost 70 percent of severe pressure ulcers (bed sores, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) can be prevented by nursing homes that adopt a "team approach" to prevention.  The research, which was sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, reported on the pressure ulcer experience of 52 nursing home across the country.  In addition to nurses and aides who are responsible to ensure patients are turned and repositioned frequently, properly fed, and kept clean, good pressure ulcer prevention involves kitchen workers (adding protein to meals), laundry workers (ensuring patients' clothes fit properly), and even beauticians (ensuring patients aren't sitting for long periods of time), the research concluded.

The study also revealed some creative approaches to pressure ulcer prevention, including color-coding dinner plates to notify staff which patients need help with eating and creating a SWAT team ("skin watch action team") to follow at-risk patients closely.  The research was praised as "the first major national effort driven by Medicare to reduce pressure ulcers."  Read more about the pressure ulcer research.

I have handled far too many cases involving pressure ulcers at nursing homes that have allowed a "culture of indifference" to develop.  Rather than involve everyone at the nursing home, as the research states needs to happen, no one seems to be involved.  These facilities do not make the prevention of pressure ulcers a priority until it's too late.  "Preventing pressure ulcers is a 24/7/365 kind of job," said one of the study's primary researchers.  As he observed, "[i]t’s not as if one person can get it all done. And if it fails just a little bit, just during the weekends, for instance, you’re not going to get the results. It takes tremendous consistency."  He's right!

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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