|Monday, 18 February 2008 16:52 | Print page:|
Alternative names: Decubitus Ulcers, Pressure Ulcers, Pressure Sores, Bed Sores, Dermal Ulcers, Pressure Wounds
A bed sore is an area of skin and tissue that becomes injured or broken down. Generally, bed sores occur when a person is in a sitting or lying position for too long without shifting his or her weight. The constant pressure against the skin causes a decreased blood supply to that area. Without a blood supply, the area cannot survive and the affected tissue dies.
Pressure ulcers are extremely difficult to heal. The resulting wound can be painful, destroy tissue, fat, muscle and can lead to death. Pressure as small as 60 mm Hg. to a body surface for 1-2 hours initiates the process of skin breakdown. Shear, friction, moisture and chemical irritants exacerbate the process.
A 2-hour time frame is a generally accepted maximum interval that the tissue can tolerate pressure without damage. A patient who cannot change position without assistance should be turned and repositioned at least every two hours, more frequently if needed, with the use of pillows as support.
Chronic wounds aren't particularly attractive, in fact they're revolting to look at and excruciatingly painful if you have one, but they affect over 270,000 elderly people in Australia today.
In a lot of cases, they are so debilitating that even administering morphine to dull the pain doesn't work. The main problem faced by sufferers is not that they can't get better, but that they can't afford to pay for treatment.
Wound treatment is cost effective but expensive, and there is no funding for treatment via PBS or Medicare. Bearing in mind that wounds usually effect the elderly who are often the poorest members of the community, in an enormous number of cases patients don't get treatment because they simply can't afford to pay for it.
To me that just doesn't seem right in a first world country like Australia in 2008.
Whether you have endured a pressure wound yourself, or have felt helpless watching the agony of a loved one, you have suffered. Many people have sent messages to us asking for information. A theme that runs through all of these messages is complete amazement that such a thing could happen:
This web site, and its links to resources, is aimed at correcting these omissions. Publications, posters, advertisements, and publicity are all means to carry out this goal. Our efforts at education also have the goal of convincing government leaders that denying funding for available specialised care for the elderly and frail is false economy.
Your support to this cause can be your testimony that, having experienced the suffering caused by pressure wounds, you are going to do your part to insure that your loved one [or even you], can escape this agony in the future.
Due to staffing shortages, medical funding cuts and other issues, many care facilities are chronically understaffed. This results in patients not being turned, cleaned and fed as often as the ideal standard of nursing would dictate. Massive deep wounds over Stage 2 and chronic infections continue to be an unacceptable standard of care. Such wounds are generally a strong indication of negligence in more than one area.
Where do "Bed Sores" appear?
The most common places for bedsores are over bony prominences (bones close to the skin), such as the elbow, heels, hips, ankles, shoulders, back, coccys/tailbone, and the back of the head.
Who's At Risk?
Anyone who must stay in a bed, chair or wheelchair because of illness or injury, or who cannot change position without help is at high risk.
Why are Seniors more Vulnerable to this Deadly Medical Condition?
In a nursing home setting, turning is costly and dependent on adequate staffing ratios. The use of restraints on residents and/or the lack of incontinence rehabilitation compound the problem.
If a nursing home has a higher than normal percentage of patients with pressure ulcers because the facility specialises in wound care, the staffing level should be commensurate with the higher level of care required.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable because their skin usually becomes thinner and more fragile with age.
How Long Does it take to happen?
Bedsores can develop in a matter of hours.
Most Likely Places to Occur?
Decubitus ulcers can happen during hospitalisation, in a nursing home or in a community setting.
" Don't let anyone fool you, 98 percent of all bedsores or 'decubitus ulcers' as they are called, are preventable."