Bedsores are a skin condition that is caused by putting pressure on a part of the body for a long period of time. Bedsores are also known as decubitus, skin ulcers, or pressure sores. Bedsores most commonly occur over bony areas, as blood flow is already somewhat restricted in those areas, and may be almost entirely cut of when pressure is exerted. Cutting off blood flow to an area for more than two hours causes oxygen deprivation, and will cause the skin to die.
Preventing bedsores may be difficult with patients that are bedridden. Pressure is constantly being put on parts of the skin that are in contact with the bed, from the patient’s body weight. Staff must work hard to push patients to the full range of their mobility for successful bedsore prevention.
Patients that are unable to walk may be repositioned, sat up, and allowed time in a wheel chair or seat if practical. Patients that have even more limited mobility must be massaged or engage in physical therapy to prevent muscle atrophy as well as bed sores. Patients that can walk with assistance should be allowed to do so as often as possible.
Other prevention methods include:
- Frequent inspection of patients’ skin to detect early signs of bedsores
- Keeping patients and linens very clean at all times
- Inserting gel or foam pads into bedding to provide more cushioning for sensitive areas
- Electronic beds that raise and lower to assist with movement
- Beds that control the amount of pressure exerted on skin such as pressure distributive mattresses, special air mattresses, and alternating pressure mattresses.
- Ensuring that patients receive proper nutrition, correcting existing deficiencies
Diet is very important in preventing bedsores. Sudden weight loss can be a contributing cause of bed sores, as the skin is not used to the newly decreased blood flow, and may begin to deteriorate quicker. Eating an adequate amount of nutritious food is good for patients’ mental and emotional health as well, and healthy patients may be more eager to move than malnourished patients.
Staying hydrated is vital to maintaining health in general, and specifically healthy skin. Certain vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin C, boost the body’s immunity. This helps in preventing bedsores and other afflictions, and may help patients to heal more quickly in the event of illness or infection. Consuming adequate amounts of protein is vital for maintaining and building muscles. This can increase patients’ mobility, which will in turn assist as a bedsore prevention method.
Causes of Bedsores
Understanding what causes bedsores is important to understanding how to prevent bedsores from forming. There are a few different types of bedsores. The characteristics of each type depend on the root cause of the bedsore.
Root cause of Bedsore:
- Sustained Pressure is the most common cause of bedsores. This is when an area is deprived of circulation, blood flow, and oxygen due to pressure. Harder surfaces coming in contact with bonier areas of the body speed the development of this type of sore. The sore will start with redness and irritation, and may be itchy. With continued pressure, a scab-like sore will develop. If pressure is still not relieved and sore is untreated, the sore will continue to worsen.
- Friction of skin against clothing or sheets can cause bedsores if skin is moist or tender. The rubbing of the skin against fabric or other surfaces can cause the skin to break. This broken and tender skin increases the risk of infection and further injury.
- Shearing is a type of bedsore that often affects patients that are situated in a bed that can be raised or lowered. The act of raising the bed may cause the patient to slide. If the patient has been sedentary for a long period of time, the sliding motion may damage skin that has already been under sustained pressure. Blood vessels and tissues may also be damaged
How to Handle Discovery of Bedsores
If a loved one discovers bedsores on a patient, neglect is undeniable. Staff should be held accountable, and the patient should be removed from the situation. Medical attention should be administered immediately, to prevent further infection or discomfort. Contacting an attorney can help family members understand options for persecution of the offending nursing home or care facility.
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