Nursing Home Risk Assessments for Bed Sores
Part of the initial assessments that nursing home providers must complete upon bringing on a new resident includes assessing that individual’s potential risk for pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores. Without these assessments, a patient may develop pressure ulcers that can lead to severe pain, infection, surgery and even death.
Formal Pressure Ulcer Risk Assessment Tools
There are several formal bed sore risk assessment tools available to nursing home doctors and staff. The most popular tools are the Waterlow Scale, Norton Scale and Braden Scale. These scales weigh a number of general mental and physical health conditions, including:
- Mental status, as a compromised mental state can greatly affect an individual’s ability to take proper care of him or herself
- Nutritional status, as malnutrition plays an intrinsic role in the development of pressure ulcers
- Hydration status, as dehydration can also lead to skin breakdown
- Mobility status, as lesser mobility means greater likelihood of bed sores
Additionally, these scales assess specific medical conditions that can increase a person’s risk for skin breakdown, including:
- Vascular disease
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
Each scale provides its own classification system to help identify nursing home patients at greatest risk for pressure ulcers. Regardless of the type of scale a nursing home follows, it is important to note that the scale is not the only tool used to assess a resident’s risk.
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Risk Assessment Scales Work Alongside Other Factors
Often, nurses and doctors do not rely on these scales alone. Instead, the scales supplement the hands-on experience each nurse and doctor offers. This clinical judgment improves through special training and ongoing education about bed sore prevention and care. Other factors that go into an overall assessment of a nursing home patient’s risk for bed sores include daily hygiene levels and assessment of the patient’s skin, as well as constant consideration and review of the patient’s position and support surfaces.
Nursing Home Care Providers Should Perform Ongoing Assessments
Ongoing pressure ulcer assessments are just as important as the initial assessment. These ongoing assessments include daily examination of each patient’s skin, specifically discoloration, bruising and other early warning signs of bed sores. With diligence and proper care, most patients can completely avoid developing pressure ulcers throughout their time in the nursing home.
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