Bedsores, also known as pressure sores, are characterized as damage that occurs in the deep tissues when a person is unable to move or reposition him or herself periodically. They are immensely painful and very difficult to treat. As discussed in an early blog post, which can be found here, a recent study suggest conducted by Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center found that the most popular bedsore risk assessment tool, the Braden scale, does not perform as well as other assessment tools when specifically used for assessing ICU patients. The study concluded that the Braden scale may not sufficiently reflect the characteristics of ICU patients. But why?
The study suggests that ICU patients are subjected to special ICU-specific risk factors that are not necessarily accounted for when using the Braden scale to assess the risk of bedsore development in ICU patients. For example, the study noted that the top 5 most frequent admission diagnoses of the patients encompassed by the study included:
- Acute respiratory failure, with 8.1% of admissions;
- Septicemia, with 3.6% of admissions;
- Shortness of breath, with 3.2% of admissions;
- Multiple myeloma, with 2.8% of admissions; and
- Altered mental status, with 2.2% of admissions.
A few other admission diagnoses included pneumonia, subarachnoid hemorrhage, congestive heart failure, coronary atherosclerosis, and intracerebral hemorrhage. What is of note is that all of these diagnoses are conditions that are known to occur in the elderly population at a higher rate than the general population.
Many Nursing Home Residents are at Risk for Developing Bedsores
Many nursing home residents present risk factors that place them at a higher risk of developing bedsores than younger people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2-35% of nursing home residents develop bedsores. This upper range is so high because elderly people are at higher risk for having bedsore development risk factors.
- Over a quarter of nursing home residents have diabetes, which makes them more likely to develop bedsores or diabetic sores on their heels and feet.
- Approximately 1 in 3 elderly Americans are obese, which is a bedsore development risk factor.
- Nearly 9% of elderly people smoke cigarettes.
- Upwards of 70% of elderly people have hypertension.
- Elderly people often have sudden weight loss issues, either due to malnutrition or severe illness, such as cancer. Of those residents who lose weight suddenly, 1 in 5 develop bedsores.
With the elderly being more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital for medical emergencies, and having an increased rate of pressure sore development risk factors, elderly people who become ill or hurt are going to be at an increased risk of developing bedsores upon admission to the ICU if the ICU only uses the Braden scale to assess newly admitted patients.
Bedsores are largely preventable and yet it is estimated that the annual expenditure on the treatment of bedsores in the United States is nearly 11 billion dollars. Bedsores are almost always a clear indication that appropriate care is not being administered to residents and serves as a sign of neglect in the nursing home. If your loved one has developed a bedsore while living at a nursing home facility, please contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney immediately. The experienced attorneys at Rooth Law Firm are available to help you and can be reached either online or by telephone today by calling (800) 598-4348.