Nursing home residents in Indiana and around the country are more likely to develop bedsores than younger bedridden patients because they are not as mobile, have thinner skin and often suffer from medical conditions that weaken their immune systems. Bedsores, which are sometimes referred to as pressure ulcers, develop when bedridden individuals stay in the same position for prolonged periods, and they develop more quickly when patients are malnourished or dehydrated. This is why bedsores are often seen as a warning sign of possible nursing home neglect.
Four stages of discomfort
Bedsores are unlikely to develop if patients receive proper care, adequate nutrition and are repositioned regularly. If the care provided is lacking, bedsores can fester and break through the skin to reach fatty tissue, muscle and even bone. When nursing home neglect is suspected to have played a role, the severity of bedsores is usually a crucial issue. A category one bedsore could occur in a first-class medical facility from time to time, but a category four bedsore would be difficult to explain.
New bedsore technology
Bedsores have been causing pain and discomfort since beds were invented, but a team of researchers from Australia are determined to make them a relic of the past. They have developed a fiber sensor that monitors patient movement and can be fitted to hospital or nursing home mattresses. Existing monitoring systems are rarely used because they rely on sensors that must be attached to the patient’s body. The fiber sensor developed by the Australian team also monitors vital signs like heart rate and respiration, and it can alert medical staff when patients are experiencing distress or need to be moved.
More can be done
Nursing home residents should not have to rely on mattress sensors to protect them from abuse or neglect. That is the job of their loved ones and federal and state agencies. The kind of conditions that lead to bedsores would be difficult to conceal from an experienced inspector, so frequent bedsore outbreaks could be a sign of official as well as professional negligence.