Studies show that almost 50% of California nursing homes do not meet federal standards in preventing pressure ulcers. The problems are so widespread that the treatment of these ulcers – also called bed sores – will no longer be covered by Medicare if the sore was acquired after admission into a nursing home.
Family members should be aware that a bed sore can develop in only a few hours if an area of the skin is subjected to enough pressure that cuts off blood flow to that area. The skin will initially appear red and will be painful, slowing appearing to have a purple color. This is the best time prevent the sore from advancing to something more serious.
Nursing home and assisted living residents are at high risk for developing pressure ulcers, and those residents that are bedridden, wheelchair bound, or those will limited mobility must be examined frequently for the development of bedsores. A small bedsore can quickly become a large sore if treatment is not promptly provided.
Studies show that the best way to prevent these sores is a multidisciplinary approach, where all departments of the nursing home are involved in the prevention and care of bedsores, including departments such as laundry and maintenance. If you are responsible for a resident of a nursing facility, insist that the staff check frequently for the early stages of pressure sores, particularly the areas of the lower back and coccyx, and on the heels.
For more information about bedsore prevention and treatment, visit the Mayo Clinics website on the topic here.