Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are lesions that develop when soft tissue is compressed by bone and an external surface for an extended period of time. When a patient is properly cared for bedsores should never occur. Medicare has gone so far as to call bedsores “never events,” because they shouldn’t happen to any patient.
Those who are most at risk of developing bedsores are the elderly and people with medical conditions that inhibit their ability to change positions. If a loved one or family member is in a nursing home or hospital and has limited mobility, measures must be taken to prevent bedsores. Nursing homes and hospitals usually set programs to avoid the development of bedsores in bedridden patients such as using a standing frame to reduce pressure and ensuring dry sheets by using impermeable dressings. Further, the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, has created a national standard of care for people living in nursing homes. If a bedsore does begin to develop medical care providers should rotate the patient approximately every two hours to reduce pressure on the affected area.
Bedsores are classified into 4 categories based on severity.
- Stage I – This is the beginning pressure stage where the skin is intact, hurts when touched, and there is nonblanchable redness of the area.
- Stage II – In this stage the ulcer is an open wound. There can be partial loss of the outer layer of skin. It may also appear as a fluid-filled or ruptured blister.
- Stage III – In this stage the ulcer is a deep open wound. Skin loss exposes body fat and the wound has a crater like appearance.
- Stage IV – In this final stage there is a large-scale loss of tissue. The skin loss is deep enough to muscle, bone, and tendons.
Bedsores are avoidable and occur when healthcare providers break the rules of patient safety. Bedsores bring increased and avoidable pain and costs to the patient. This is why extra care and attention must be given to prevent these unnecessary sores.