A recent article in Britain’s Daily Mail says that hospital-acquired bed sores continue to plague England’s National Health System in alarming numbers. “Bed sores affected 412,000 NHS patients, and killed 4,708 people between 2003 and 2008,” the article states. The Daily Mail obtained its statistics from “Dr. Foster,” a part-public, part-private watchdog organization that analyses […]
Category : Bed Sore In Hospital
Medical Malpractice: Pressure Ulcers in Hospitals
Pressure ulcers, also known as decubitus ulcers, pressure sores and bedsores, are a common problem in hospital settings nationwide. The skin lesion often results in significant pain and at times leads to serious infection. While many individuals seek medical care because of a pressure ulcer, some patients acquire them after being admitted in a hospital setting.
A pressure ulcer usually develops when patients are stationary in a bed or chair for extended periods without the ability to reposition. The bedsore is usually a result of restricted blood flow to the patient’s skin. Cutting off blood flow can temporarily or permanently damage skin tissue, requiring extensive care.
A Proactive Approach Necessary To Recognize The Risks Posed To Hospital Patients
Some hospital network systems are implementing proactive approaches to minimize the potential of patients developing pressure ulcers. This action is happening due to the desire to provide a higher level of care, and because of the policy change by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid), which stopped reimbursing hospitals for providing treatment for pressure ulcers acquired by patients while under hospital care.
Preventing pressure ulcers in hospitals is a serious problem and usually requires interdisciplinary approaches to health care. Some parts of preventative care are the result of routine health management in the hospital setting. However, at some point, skin care management will need to be tailored to specific patients suffering from bedsores to improve the outcome of their condition.
Hospitals taking a proactive approach can make significant improvements in managing patients with bedsores, or minimizing the potential of pressure ulcers developing. These changes for improvement include:
• Daily inspection of the patient’s skin
• Manage the patient’s skin moisture
• Perform a pressure ulcer assessment when patients are admitted
• Minimize the amount of pressure on the skin through movement or devices
• Optimize the patient’s hydration and nutrition
• Reassess the patient’s potential risk of pressure ulcer development each day
A Preventable Problem With Many Disabled Patients At Risk
Even though nearly every type of pressure ulcer is preventable through simple measures, bedsores are still an increasing problem in healthcare facilities nationwide. This is often the result of lack of training, the high workload demand on nurses and aides and/or a lack of adequate staffing.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stopped reimbursing hospitals and medical facilities for any pressure ulcer classified as stage III or stage IV, if the bedsore was obtained after the patient was admitted. This was a direct result of a joint commission study in 2009 attempting to address facility-acquired bedsores.
It was the hope of the joint commission to move the cost of treating bedsores acquired in the hospital to the facility as an incentive to minimize the development of pressure ulcers in hospitals. Unfortunately, even with the new ruling, many hospitals still continually fail to follow well-established guidelines using provable measures known to prevent developing pressure ulcers.
Innovative Solutions To A Pressure Sore Epidemic
Innovative solutions are available for hospital staff and administrators to minimize the potential of patients developing facility-acquired pressure ulcers after the patient is admitted. Some of these solutions include:
- Regular Assessment – The medical staff can examine every patient during admission to the hospital using assessment tools including the Braden Scale. The evaluation should include assessing bony prominences on the patient, especially on the heels, sacrum, coccyx and ankles. Assessments should be repeated routinely at 24-hour intervals until the patient is discharged.
- Signs and Symptoms – With routine assessments, the nursing staff can identify any patient measuring 18 or less on a Braden Score, and take proactive measures including repositioning the patient in the bed throughout the day.
- Moisture Management – The nursing staff and aides can use disposable, pre-moistened barrier wipes for protecting, deodorizing and cleansing the perennial skin of the patient. In addition, dry flow pads can be placed under the patient to manage incontinence.
- Pressure Redistribution – Hospitals using pressure redistribution mattresses in the facility tend to have fewer problems of facility-acquired pressure ulcers. Ensuring that every mattress in the facility reduces the potential of pressure ulcer development eliminates the need to obtain a physician’s order for a special bed.
Hiring An Attorney When Hospital Negligence Is Involved
Unfortunately, negligence in hospitals and medical facilities kill more individuals every year compared to car accidents. Many times, pressure ulcers in hospitals are caused through abuse or neglect. Because the occurrence of bedsores is preventable, it seems inexcusable that any patient develops a decubitus ulcer while under the care of hospital staff.
If you or a loved one developed a pressure ulcer after being admitted to a hospital facility, you likely have the right to sue for medical malpractice. However, based on the Statute of Limitations applicable to your particular situation, time to file your claim may be running out. For an initial free consultation to review your claim, call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers at (888) 424-5757 to ensure your rights are protected.
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