Pressure sores occur far more often in African-Americans than any other racial or ethnic group in nursing homes in Kingston, New York

If you are black, your risk of getting a pressure sore (also known as a bed sore or decubitus ulcer) in a nursing home is almost double the risk for other racial and ethnic groups.

Disturbing Differences in the Rates of Pressure Sores among Black and White Residents

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the highest rate of pressure sores in 2008 (15.5 percent) occurred among black residents in nursing homes with the highest concentration of black residents.  Conversely, the lowest rate (8.8 percent) was among white residents in nursing homes with the lowest concentrations of black residents.

Equally disturbing is that residents of both races in nursing homes with the highest concentration of black residents were at least 30 percent more likely to develop pressure sores than residents in nursing homes with few or no black residents.  The authors of the study analyzed data from 2003 to 2008 on pressure sore rates in 2.1 million white residents and 346,808 black residents of 12,473 certified nursing homes.

What is the reason for the racially unequal distribution of pressure sores? 

Nurse staffing.  Nursing homes with higher concentrations of black residents tend to have lower staffing levels of registered nurses and certified nurse assistants and are larger for-profit and urban facilities, according to the author of the study.

Why does nurse staffing make a huge difference in preventing pressure sores?  

Nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nurses aides are responsible for making sure that nursing home residents at high risk for pressure sores are turned and positioned at least once every two hours.  Turning and repositioning such residents relieves the pressure on bony prominences, such as the buttocks and sacrum, where pressure sores are prone to develop in immobile residents.

The nursing staff is also responsible for being the proverbial eyes and ears of the medical director of the nursing home.  The physicians and medical director cannot intervene for residents unless the nursing staff does their job in monitoring residents for the early signs of a pressure sore, such as redness and inflammation on the skin.

What you can do if you want more information

I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] , if you have questions or want more information about the best nursing home for your loved one.