Pressures sores remain one of the single clearest signs of Chicago nursing home neglect. Far too often family members of seniors are horrified to discover that their loved ones developed serious open skin breakdowns on their body as a result of constant pressure on certain high-risk areas including the sacrum, lower back, heels, and several other locations.
Make no mistake: pressure sores are preventable. With proper caregiving, steps can be taken to ensure that the skin remains free of too much pressure, clean, and healthy. Yet, far too often–particularly at the worse performing facilities–caregivers do not provide nearly enough support to prevent the development of bed sores.
For one thing, the most vulnerable residents usually need to be repositioned in bed every two hours to ensure that no single area of the body has too much pressure from the mattress for an extended period of time. But many understaffed facilities do not abide by these re-positioning and turning requirements. In addition, many seniors do not receive adequate nutrition and hydration, which makes them more susceptible to skin breakdowns.
Both Saving Lives & Improving Quality of Life
According to a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and published in the recent edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, one piece of caregiving equipment may soon play a key role in minimizing bed sores: high-density foam mattresses.
Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center explained last month that their research indicates that use of these mattresses greatly reduces the need to reposition residents in order to prevent bed sore development. In a study of 960 residents using these foam mattresses, there was no noticeable difference between patients who were re-positioned every two hours, three hours, and four hours. None of the test subjects developed pressure sores, suggesting that the use high-density foam may make four hour intervals between turning acceptable.
Advocates are heralding the new research on two fronts. First, even for those seniors who currently receive adequate care, the safety protocols are cumbersome, requiring seniors to be moved even in the middle of the night. It is hard for many seniors to fall back asleep after being awoken every two hours. Therefore, these mattresses may help minimize the intrusions and improve their overall sleep. In addition, with a design that places less focused pressure on individual parts of the body, use of foam mattresses can help prevent pressure sores for those residents who are victims of inadequate caregiving.
This may also be a win for nursing home administrators. By minimizing the turning and repositioning requirements, individual staff members can be free to focus on other tasks. Too many nursing homes are drastically understaffed, and all changes which act as time-savers for front-line caregivers should be welcome. This all improves efficiency and can even save facilities money.
For help demanding accountability and redress in the event that a loved one develops pressure sores, please contact our elder abuse attorneys today to learn more.
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