Decubitus Ulcer Prevention Requires Policy Changes

Decubitus ulcers are commonly referred to as bed sores. These decubitus wounds form due to patient neglect. Specifically, if a nursing home or hospital patient is left in the same position for too long, their skin will break down and a red spot will develop. This reddened area is known as a Stage 1 decubitus ulcer. If the patient is left in bed or in a chair for prolonged periods of time, the Stage 1 ulcer will continue to deteriorate into a more serious pressure sore. A pressure ulcer can ultimately deteriorate into a full skin thickness loss, which is referred to as a Stage 4 decubitus ulcer.

Staging of Decubitus Ulcers

Decubitus Ulcers form due to unrelieved pressure. A Decubitus Ulcer is staged from 1 to 4.

How Are Decubitus Ulcers Prevented?

It is not complicated to prevent wounds from developing. Traditionally, pressure ulcers are prevented through re-positioning the patient every 2 hours. This is the job of the nursing home nurses or hospital staff. In recent years, there has been increased studies into the correlation between diet and bedsores. The more nutritious a patient’s diet is, the less likely their skin is to break down into a bedsore. Physicians and nurses are now more interested in treating the patient as a whole, as opposed to merely treating the patient’s pressure sore. Additionally, new technologies in special mattresses have allowed for offloading of pressure in at-risk patients through an alternating air mattress.

In a recent McKnight’s article on prevention of decubitus ulcers, a wound care physician calls for the following procedures to be implemented across the U.S. long-term care facility industry:

  1. Basic competency for all employees caring for patients with pressure sores or at risk for pressure sores. This means every employee, from the Director of Nursing down to the CNA, must be properly educated in wound prevention and bedsore treatment.
  2. Create a uniform process for skin checks, documentation of developing and existing ulcers, and mark improvement or deterioration in the bedsore. Through standardization, effective policies can be implemented.
  3. Communicate developing wounds in their infancy to wound care team specialists so the problem can be stopped before a Stage 4 bedsore develops.
  4. Keep statistics and implement change based on policy alterations.
Turn and reposition for pressure relief

Turning and repositioning offloads pressure and prevents skin breakdown

Preventable Decubitus Ulcers Cost Millions of Dollars to Taxpayers

The cost to the US taxpayer for preventable decubitus ulcer wounds is astounding. Treatment of facility-acquired bedsores costs $25 billion every year. This figure has increased annually each year in the past 10 years. As one would expect, the majority of patients with pressure ulcers are elderly and on Medicare and Medicaid. This means that the U.S. is paying billions annually for a largely preventable nursing home neglect injury. 29% of patients in long-term care facilities will develop a bedsore at some point during their residency. The average cost per patient per pressure ulcer is $10,671. When you consider the ease at which pressure sores are prevented and the scope of this problem, these number are simply unacceptable.

If your family member developed a decubitus ulcer inside a nursing home, rehab facility, assisted living facility or hospital, contact our pressure ulcer attorneys now for your free consultation. Allow our lawyers to help you achieve justice for your neglected loved one. Call us today toll-free at 1-844-253-8919.

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