A recent report noted that nursing home falls are under-reported. This leads the researchers to look at other aspects of nursing home care, including pressure sores. The University of Chicago discovered that nursing homes across the United States underreport the number of bedsores in their facilities, which is a cause for concern.
Bedsores in nursing homes
Bedsores occur when a person’s skin becomes damaged after constant pressure on the same area for a prolonged time. Pressure alone is not enough to cause these sores; it has to be accompanied by other factors like malnutrition, low immune systems, previous injury to the area, and immobility. Bed sores may become infected and can spread to other regions or bed sores without adequate wound care. The severity and frequency of these wounds make the underreporting of bedsores a reason for concern, much like the under-reporting of falls.
One of the common types of bedsores is created by malnutrition, either because the resident is not adequately monitored or their appetites are reduced. Without adequate food and water, residents develop vitamin and mineral deficiencies, leaving the body without the resources to rebuild broken-down skin. Combined with the inability to move independently, skin breakdown becomes a significant issue.
Nursing home bedsores often occur because a resident is unable to move independently enough to relieve the pressure, independently moves to a preferred side, or staff has not followed turn schedules. Nursing home staff are to make rounds on residents to ensure that the schedules are kept, the resident is eating or drinking, and that there is no bodily waste left close to the skin to break down the body. However, not all staff are as diligent as they should be or can be overwhelmed with numerous residents to care for.
Staff members can prevent bed sores by:
- Preforming complete rounds, including skin checks
- Attending to spills, bodily waste, and hydration needs rapidly
- Using care when moving residents
- Following turn schedules
Why bedsores are underreported
Bedsores go unreported or underreported for many reasons, including staff neglect (neglect in noticing and reporting it to the nurse on the hall, neglect in drafting the report), inadequate staff to properly report a wound as bedsore (wound care and RN), and inaccurate documentation. Nursing home staff can be overwhelmed with numerous patients, emergencies, and inadequate assistance causing a delay or no information reported.
The under-reporting of bedsores is a concern for every family with a loved one in the nursing home. Ensure you are asking questions and monitoring your loved one’s condition to help prevent pressure sores from inactivity.