Perhaps no single medical problem is more closely tied to neglect or abuse in nursing homes than pressure sores. As those familiar with elder care treatment and long-term care quality understand, pressure sores are serious skin breakdowns that occur when residents are not properly cared for in various settings: including nursing homes and hospitals. The lawyers at our firm have worked with countless residents in Chicago and Illinois whose loved ones developed bed sores while under the care of others. Inadequate care which leads to these injuries is never acceptable. Fortunately, the civil law provides an avenue to hold those negligent caregivers and facilities accountable. That accountability is one of the best ways to fight the problem in the future, and prevent more residents from having to face the consequences.
A new study points out just how serious the consequences might be for those who do not receive the care to which they are entitled and develop the sores.
Pressure Sore Research
The UCLA Newsroom shared information this week on new research which examined the possible connections between pressure sore development in hospitals and long-term harm. This study did not look specifically at nursing homes. However, the lessons about the harm caused by these preventable injuries is universally applicable, no matter where the neglect which leads to the damage actually occurs.
Researchers looked at the records of 51,000 Medicare patients who were hospitalized in 2006 and 2007. They used the data to determine who developed pressure sores while at the facility and compare that with the long-term outcomes for those patients. This represents a unique approach to investigating this issue. That is because, there is no single database from which to cull information about pressure sore development. In that way it is hard to find reliable information about the long-term consequences. Much of the damage is swept under the rug or ignored.
In this case researchers took a look at data involving “adverse events” or “unintended harm” within Medicare patients. This allowed them to better identify pressure sore development rates and patterns. It also allowed them to track the long-term consequences of those injuries.
What did they find? The data was clear in that those who developed pressure sores were more likely to stay in the hospital longer, be readmitted within 30 day, and they were even more likely to die at the facility. Specifically, the data reveal that about 4.5% of senior hospital patients developed a pressure sore while at the medical facility. The most common site of development for these sores was the tailbone. Other common areas where they arose were the hip, heels, and buttocks.
All of his has led the researchers to reinforce the need for clear-sighted prevention efforts. One noted, “This is a serious issue, and we now have data that can help the health care system address this ongoing problem.”
The lesson for all senior caregivers–whether in a hospital, nursing home, or other settings–is clear: Pressure sores have serious, life-threatening consequences. Reasonable care demands that steps be taken to lower those risks and keep seniors safe.
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