Prevention of Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers

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More than 2.5 million people each year suffer from bedsores. Many of these victims are in nursing homes.

Preventing bedsores and pressure ulcers is an important topic for anyone at risk. Fortunately, there are things that can reduce the risk of suffering from bedsores or pressure ulcers.

Preventing Bedsores and Pressure Ulcers

Frequent position changes for the body are important in the prevention of bedsores and pressure ulcers. In addition, sitting in a comfortable position with the neck and spine aligned can assist in prevention. Caregivers should monitor the person for the development of bedsores, especially at pressure points where sores are most likely to occur.

Areas of the body that are vulnerable to pressure wounds

There are certain places on the body that are especially vulnerable to developing bedsores and pressure ulcers. These are locations on the body where a person has especially thin skin or where the bone is closer to the skin than in other places. In addition, areas of the body that endure extra weight or pressure are especially likely to develop sores.

Here are some parts of the body that are common for bedsores:

  • Back of the arms and legs
  • Elbows
  • Hips, lower back
  • Heels
  • Ankles
  • Tailbone, rear
  • Behind the knees
  • Shoulder blades
  • Back of the head

Think about the body parts that make contact when a person lies down or sits in a chair. The combination of body pressure, friction, and thinner skin may all play a role in the development of sores.

Bedsores happen in wheelchairs, too.

Bedsores are common for people who are bedridden. It’s true that many bedsores develop because of prolonged periods lying in a bed. However, bedsores can happen from sitting in a wheelchair, too. A person in a wheelchair may be especially likely to develop sores in the places that rest against the chair, like the seat, back of the arms, legs, and shoulder blades.

What are some ways to prevent bedsores?

Preventing bedsores should take a holistic approach. There are several things that may lessen the risk of bedsores. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turning and repositioning as needed. It may be appropriate to move the person as often as every two hours.
  • Checking for places where redness is developing. Seeing redness on the body may be a sign that these areas are under too much stress.
  • Ensuring that the person is sitting or lying in a way that reduces pressure on areas of concern.
  • Keeping skin in good condition with regular cleaning and keeping the skin dry.
  • Drinking enough water.
  • Good nutrition including vitamins and minerals, and a balanced diet which includes any unique nutritional needs.
  • Understanding the person’s ability to communicate. If a person is less able to communicate their needs, extra attention may be needed by caregivers to identify bedsores and respond appropriately if they occur.
  • Know the effects of any medication that a person is taking and whether it may make bedsores more likely.
  • When the person is repositioned, make sure their knees, ankles, and elbows are not on top of each other. The neck and spine should be aligned so the person is not in a stretched or uncomfortable position.
  • Use soft padding in a wheelchair and other seats whenever possible.

How often is it necessary to reposition to prevent bedsores?

Medical experts recommend repositioning every 2-4 hours to prevent bedsores. The needed frequency depends on several variables, including the person’s risk factors, their positioning, and whether the person is sleeping or active.

What if a pressure sore isn’t properly treated in a timely manner?

Damage to the muscle and bone beneath the skin can happen if pressure injuries aren’t addressed. Bed sores can progress into multiple stages with severe complications, some fatal. Infections that spread to the bone can lead to a condition called osteomyelitis, a prevalent issue among diabetics with poor blood flow. This complication can require amputation and other invasive medical interventions.

Legal Help for Someone Suffering from Bedsores or Pressure Ulcers

If a person has developed bedsores or pressure ulcers while in a hospital, nursing home, or other care facility, they may receive financial compensation. A nursing home or hospital may be at fault for allowing risk factors that lead to the development of bedsores.

We are Bobby Jones Law. Attorney Bobby Jones and his team provide help for individuals and families when abuse or neglect occurs. If you or a loved one has been hurt, we invite you to contact us to discuss your options and how we can help.

Sources: Medline Plus, Turning Patients Over in Bed, National Library of Medicine, The Prevention and Management of Pressure Ulcers in Primary and Secondary Care, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bedsores.

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