Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Saturday, November 17, 2007
    Combating Bedsores

    Recently Medicare announced that within a year it will no longer pay hospitals for treating certain "reasonably preventable" conditions, one of which is bedsores. This has spurred hospitals to develop aggressive programs to prevent them, such as playing music to remind the staff to turn patients every two hours. And with reason: decubiti, the medical name for pressure ulcers or bedsores, are among the most frequent, costly and dangerous of medical complications.
    Quote from the article:

    In elderly or disabled patients, sores can begin forming in as little as two to six hours, but pressure ulcers also can develop in much younger and healthier patients on the skin of the tailbone, back, buttocks, heels, back of the head, or elbows. Poor nutrition or dehydration can weaken the skin and make it more vulnerable.

    For a healthy person spending a routine night in bed, or even on a futon or sleeping bag, this sounds unlikely... but in a weakened patient who cannot move themselves and who may well be dehydrated these sores can form with frightening speed. They can become infected and have been known to kill in themselves (think Christopher Reeve, who died of sepsis from an infected bedsore). The article provides some interesting tips developed to remind staff to keep checking patients, which is really the single best way to prevent this complication.




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