A new clinical study has found a direct link between pressure ulcers – commonly known as bedsores – and patient mortality.
According to the UCLA study, seniors who developed bedsores in a hospital were more likely to die during their stay, to have longer periods in the facility, or were readmitted within 30 days of their discharge.
The research is believed to be the first of its kind to use data directly from medical records to assess the impact of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers on Medicare patients at national and state levels.
The study, spearheaded by the dean of UCLA’s School of Nursing, is featured as the lead story in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
To arrive at their findings, the researchers tracked more than 51,000 randomly selected Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized across the United States in 2006 and 2007.
“Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers were shown to be an important risk factor associated with mortality,” said Dr. Courtney Lyder, lead investigator on the study and dean of the UCLA School of Nursing.
“It is incumbent upon hospitals to identify individuals at high risk for these ulcers and implement preventive interventions immediately upon admission.”
According to Lyder and his research team, individuals at the highest risk are those with existing chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as those on steroids.
Alternating pressure and low air loss technologies are known to be effective in healing and preventing pressure wounds and make care giving tasks significantly easier.
The selection of equipment, although secondary to the delivery of essential nursing care, will significantly contribute to a pressure ulcer prevention programme.