Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys were not surprised to learn of a study by researchers at the University of Iowa, reported on by Reuters, which found that black residents of long-term care facilities are more likely to suffer from pressure sores. The difference in care is not a result of nursing homes providing better quality care for white residents, but rather that residents were more likely to develop pressure sores in nursing homes where a majority of the residents are black. Like many types of nursing home abuse or neglect, this could be a result of understaffing or fewer resources.
The study also found that residents in predominantly black nursing homes were at least 30 percent more likely to suffer from bed sores that those in facilities with a small population of black residents. These disparities echo an investigation by the Chicago Reporter from 2009 that revealed that Chicago nursing homes where the majority of the population was African-American had much lower CMS quality ratings than facilities where the majority of residents are white. Their investigation also revealed that Illinois had the most poorly-rated African-American nursing homes in the country.
Our Chicago nursing home lawyers are all too familiar with this epidemic, having represented hundreds of families in lawsuits involving bed sores caused by nursing home negligence. Nursing home residents have a high risk for these wounds because many of them are elderly, and often wheelchair bound or bed ridden. Bed sores develop when pressure builds in an area of the body and restricts blood flow, leading to necrosis. This can be aggravated by body moisture from sweating or incontinence. Common areas for pressure sores include a person’s heels, tailbone, elbows, and shoulders. In order to prevent pressure sores from forming, nursing homes need to employ sufficient staff who can spend time examining each resident’s skin condition and also turning and repositioning residents to redistribute weight. Other preventative measures include pressure relieving mattresses, wheelchair pads and heel protectors.
Pressure sores are much easier to prevent than heal, so in order to reduce the number of nursing home deaths caused by bed sores, it is important for all facilities in Illinois-predominantly black AND white- to increase staffing and resources devoted to the prevention of pressure sores. Facilities must stress the importance of bed sore prevention and educate their staff accordingly. It is also important to try to close this gap in the quality of care between nursing homes with predominantly white and black populations.