Unavoidable vs. Avoidable Bedsores in Nursing Homes

Old Man

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers or pressure sores, are an all too common occurrence in the nursing home environment. Bedsores are almost always an indication that abuse and/or neglect is occurring in the facility at the hands of nursing staff. The general consensus is that most pressure ulcers are preventable, and when residents and nursing home staff members take the proper preventative measures, pressure sores will not develop on the resident’s body. Yet, a very small number of pressure ulcers are unavoidable and will develop despite nursing home staff members taking all of the appropriate actions required.

When is a Pressure Ulcer Avoidable?

When a pressure sore develops on a resident’s body, it is usually the result of nursing staff failing to provide adequate care. Whether bedsores develop because of infrequent monitoring or staff fails to conduct regular evaluations of residents’ bodies via visual inspection, the root cause of avoidable bedsores is always a failure to provide adequate care. A failure of the staff to implement or adhere to a resident’s specific care plan, including neglecting to move or reposition the resident at designated time intervals throughout the day consistent with that resident’s care plan, can result in bedsores. Sometimes avoidable bedsores result because nursing staff is not properly trained concerning standardized care practices, or there are too few staff members available to provide the appropriate bedsore prevention techniques for each resident. Similarly, infrequent revisions or updates to residents’ individualized care plans to reflect changes in their physical state and medical treatment requirements can cause nursing staff to be administering too little care to residents. The commonality to all of these causes of bedsores is that they are all preventable if nursing staff put in more time or more effort.

When is a Pressure Ulcer Unavoidable?

An unavoidable pressure ulcer can develop despite nursing staffs’ valiant efforts to keep a sore from developing on the resident’s body. The staff could evaluate the resident’s clinical condition and assess all of the resident’s risk factors and even implement all of the appropriate intervention techniques necessary and consistent with the resident’s individualized care plan, and yet a sore may still develop. Unavoidable bedsores are often the result of an underlying medical condition.

For example, it is known that one of the leading contributing factors to the development of a bedsore is immobility for extended periods of time. As such, a resident with hemodynamic instability may develop unavoidable bedsores, especially if the condition worsens when the resident moves. Such a condition would force the resident to remain still, unmoving, which can prompt low blood circulation and pressure points to develop on the skin. Ultimately, after enough time has passed without repositioning or moving, the hemodynamically unstable resident will develop a bedsore.

Contacting a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney

If your loved one has developed a pressure ulcer while staying at a nursing home facility, and there is no reason to believe that the wound was unavoidable, do not hesitate to contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today. Please contact the attorneys at Rooth Law Firm either online or by phone a t(800) 598-4348.

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc
Sources:  

Joyce Black, et al., Pressure Ulcers: Avoidable or Unavoidable?  Results of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel Consensus Conference, Ostomy Wound Management, 2011;57(2):24–37.

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