Every two hours. Twelve times a day. Seven days a week. 4,380 times a year. That’s the standard of care dictating the number of times that people at high risk for bed sores and pressure ulcers should be readjusted.
According to The Yale Medical Group, a new high density mattress can reduce the number of times a resident needs to be adjusted to prevent bed sores. In one study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, almost 1000 nursing home residents considered to be high risk for bed sores were given high density mattresses and readjusted at 2, 3, and 4 hour intervals. None of the participants developed bed sores over the three week trial.
Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are injuries that occur when constant pressure is applied to one area of the body. The elderly are particularly susceptible to bed sores, and when they are left for hours at a time in a bed or wheelchair, the risk of developing a bed sore grow exponentially.
Bed sores range in severity from Stage I bed sores (reddened skin or blisters) to Stage 4 (the open wound extends down to the muscle and bone). Obviously, these conditions are extremely serious. Because bed sores often develop on the tailbone or buttocks, they are prone to infection, and these infections often prove fatal.
I haven’t been able access the full study, but I believe there are a few issues that need to be considered. First, three weeks is not a long time. It might be the case that these mattresses provide some medical benefit, but it also might be a very slight benefit.
As a bed sore lawyer, I feel there’s a reasonable chance that nursing homes who invest in these bed sore prevention devices will consider them to be a panacea, and the care these residents get may diminish as a result.
I’ve seen cases where residents who developed bed sores were left for many, many hours before they developed their injuries. Nursing home neglect is nursing home neglect whether or not a verifiable injury has yet occurred.
There are many unknowns surrounding bed sores. Why will one resident develop bed sores while another does not? Why do some appear very quickly, and others seem to take long periods of time to develop?
I applaud any effort to further the effective treatment and prevention of these terrible injuries, and if these mattresses can aid in that effort, they should become the standard of care. However, that does not mean that the number of required readjustments should be lowered.
If you have a loved one who has developed a bed sore in a Chicago nursing home, contact my law offices for a free and confidential evaluation of your case. At the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle we never charge a fee unless we earn a recovery for you.