Pressure injuries are exceedingly common for the bedridden and those in wheelchairs, especially if patients do not receive proper preventative care and treatment. In nursing homes, pressure injuries are a particular issue because many of the residents spend a large portion of their time in bed or sitting, which puts them at a higher risk of developing pressure injuries. In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of pressure injuries, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel has sponsored the fifth annual World Wide Pressure Injury Prevention Day, which will take place on November 16, 2017.
The first World Wide Pressure Injury Prevention Day took place in 2013 and has since been recognized by many governing bodies throughout the world. Hospitals and nursing homes will come together on this day to pursue a common goal of educating people about the dangers of pressure injuries and how to prevent them.
Once called bedsores or decubitus ulcers, modern medicine now refers to injuries to the skin and soft tissues as pressure injuries. A pressure injury is a type of localized damage sustained to the skin or underlying tissue caused by repeated compression. These injuries typically occur over protruding areas, like the skin over the tailbone, hip bones, along the spine, or shoulder blades.
Anyone who spends a substantial amount of time in bed or sitting each day could develop pressure injuries, but certain individuals face a higher risk. People who are severely ill and bedridden are at high risk, as are elderly individuals who sit or lie down for most of their day, and patients recovering from a serious surgery may also be at risk. Luckily, there are ways to prevent pressure injuries from developing.
Pressure injuries form, as the name implies because certain parts of the body have sustained too much pressure, which can then lead to a lack of blood supply to that region. When a part of the skin or tissue lacks blood circulation, it could cause the tissue to die, creating a very painful wound. Initially, these wounds may look like red spots or bruises. If pressure injuries become worse, they may grow deeper and could affect the layers of soft tissue, even damaging nerves or leading to an infection.
In order to prevent pressure injuries, patients who are at risk should be rotated and repositioned frequently in order to prevent too much stress on certain areas of the body. Caretakers can also help to prevent these injuries by keeping the patient’s skin clean and healthy in other regards. Healthy eating can strengthen the skin, as can maintaining a clean, dry bed. Areas particularly prone to the development of bedsores can also be cushioned with soft pillows and other specialized pads.
If you or someone you love has developed a bedsore, seek your doctor for medical care immediately. When properly cared for, these injuries can heal, but if they are left untended they can become very serious and extremely painful.
Unfortunately, nursing home patients develop pressure injuries all too common, and if your loved one’s nursing home facility is negligent in providing adequate care, it could lead to serious damage. If your loved one suffered nursing home abuse, you should take immediate action to protect their health and well-being.