Steps to Prevent Bedsore Development in Nursing Homes

In a recent blog, our Maryland nursing home attorneys discussed nursing home negligence and the prevalence of pressure sores plaguing elderly and immobile residents in nursing homes across the country, as well as the importance of pressure sore prevention to avoid nursing home injury or wrongful death.

Pressure ulcers commonly develop on areas of the body that are bony and close to the skin, with less padding by muscle and fat. Common areas include the tailbone, heels, hips, ankles, tailbones, shoulder blades, elbows, backs, shoulders as well as the back of the head. With pressure sores, one small inflammation can quickly develop into a deep crater that can be extremely painful, hard to heal, and can cause infections that are life-threatening.

To prevent bedsores, also called pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers, it is important to avoid lying directly on bony areas, as they are prone to pressure sore development. The Mayo Clinic recommends:

• If lying on your side, try lying at a 30-degree angle.
• When lying on your back, always support your legs with a pillow or soft pad from the middle of the calf to the ankle, to increase blood flow.
• Try to keep bony areas like ankles and knees from touching.
• Try and avoid raising the head of the bed more than 30 degrees, as this could cause the resident to slide down and increase friction. If the bed needs to be raised to a high height, pillows or foam wedges should be placed on hips and shoulders to help maintain proper alignment to reduce any rubbing.
• Patients who are lying down should be moved every two hours, and if in a wheel chair, should be manually moved every 15 minutes.

• Try mattresses and wheelchairs that are pressure-reducing.

For elderly or post-surgery residents who are immobile, diet is an essential part of pressure sore prevention and healing, as balanced meals supply the necessary nutrients needed to keep residents healthy. The Mayo Clinic recommends to:

• Eat smaller meals more frequently, to help ensure that residents are getting enough calories, protein, minerals and vitamins.
• Take advantage of times when residents have a hearty appetite, like when they are rested in the morning.
• Limit the amount of fluids given to residents during mealtime. Liquids can prevent a resident from eating higher calorie foods.
• If swallowing is a challenge, pureed foods, shakes and soups with protein can be easier to ensure calorie intake.

• Never rush a resident’s mealtime.

For families who have loved ones in a nursing home or care facility, it is also important to check the resident’s condition with each visit. The resident’s skin condition, weight, and general healthcare should be monitored with each visit, as well as weight. If there are any signs of nursing home neglect, like pressure sores, the nursing staff and doctor should be contacted immediately.

In Maryland or the Washington D.C. area, call our nursing home negligence attorneys for a free consultation, at 1-800-654-1949.

Bedsores (Pressure Sores) Prevention, Mayo Clinic
National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Pressure Ulcer Research

The AGS Foundation for Health and Aging: Pressure Sores

National Institutes of Health, (NIH): Medline Plus: Osteomyelitis

Related Web Resources:

NCHS Data Brief: Pressure Ulcers Among Nursing Home Residents: United States 2004

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