What is the best way to prevent pressure sores from getting worse?

Pressure sores can be prevented from getting worse with one simple step: daily skin inspections.  With the start of each nursing shift (typically every seven hours), the nurse should do a skin inspection to check for areas of the body where pressure sores are prone to develop.  The parts of the body that are most susceptible to pressure sores are called pressure points, where there are bony prominences pressing against the skin, i.e., the sacrum and buttocks are the most common sites of pressure sores.

Why daily skin inspections make all the difference in the world in preventing pressure sores

Why do daily skin inspections prevent pressure sores?  It's real simple: skin inspections of the patient's pressure points will reveal areas of the body that have redness and inflammation.  This is known as a Stage One pressure sore and the redness and inflammation is the earliest stage of pressure sore. If untreated, the redness and inflammation will progress to deeper layers of the skin through the fat, muscle and down to the bone.

The goal is to treat pressure sores before they progress beyond the uppermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis.  Once the pressure sore gets below the skin into the fat, muscle and bone, your doctors will have a hard time healing the pressure sore and a surgical procedure known as a debridement may be necessary to remove rotten and dead tissue surrounding the pressure sore.  When the pressure sore gets into the fat and muscle below the surface of the skin, you are susceptible to bone infections, known as osteomyelitis, and then things can get really ugly for you.

How you can make sure the nurses are doing their jobs to prevent pressure sores

The nurses' progress notes in the nursing home/hospital should document the daily skin inspections.  If you have a concern that a family member is not appropriately treated for pressure sores, ask to check the nurses' progress notes and look specifically at the category marked "skin inspection".  The nurses should document each skin inspection in their progress notes and whether they found anything abnormal, such as redness and inflammation.

If a pressure sore has developed, the nurses must document the size and depth of the pressure sore and ideally, they will ask for a consultation with a wound care nurse, who is a specialist to address the pressure sore.  You should make sure that a wound care nurse sees your family member at least once every two days if your loved one is diagnose with a pressure sore.

Most importantly, make sure the nurses are doing their jobs with daily skin inspections at each nursing shift and have them show you in the progress notes that they are doing their job.

I welcome your phone call if you have questions about pressure sores

If you have questions about the prevention of pressure sores, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell phone at 866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] .  If you would like a free copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, you can request the book from the home page of my website, www.protectingpatientrighgts.com.