This Thursday, November 20th, is World Wide Pressure Ulcer Prevention Day. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) has designated this day to focus attention on what is the most common injury suffered by vulnerable adult patients in our nation’s nursing facilities.
Pressure ulcers form when a patient is left in one position, with unrelenting pressure on one area of skin, while in a bed, wheelchair, or other setting. Skin integrity can also be degraded by poor nutrition, dehydration, poor hygiene, or infection. Pressure ulcers can be prevented by appropriate attention to a patient’s state of health, and frequent, regular changes in position to relieve pressure on stressed areas of the patient’s skin.
Some of the most disturbing statistics compiled by the NPUAP are:
- About 60,000 people die each year with pressure ulcers.
- More than 2.5 million Americans develop pressure ulcers every year.
- It costs nearly $11 billion a year to treat pressure ulcers in the U.S.
- Patients weakened by pressure ulcers have a harder time fighting infection, and maintaining normal weight, muscle tone or bone density.
A significant portion of our practice at MWK involves the representation of vulnerable adults. Our clients have been abused, injured, and neglected, and frequently this neglect has led to their premature death. The most common example of patient neglect which we see is the development of pressure ulcers. These wounds are incredibly painful and, once established, take weeks or months to heal with even the best remedial care. For examples of the four stages of pressure ulcer development, look here. (Warning some images are graphic.)
The NPUAP is not asking for donations on November 20th. It is not seeking anything other than a commitment from caregivers and medical professionals that they will become more vigilant in their care for vulnerable patients, and thereby begin to reduce this deplorable number of nationwide pressure ulcers cases. MWK joins them in this concern, and hopes that we can, in our own way, bring more attention to this industry-wide scandal in the care of our aged and debilitated. We will continue to fight for the rights of this population, and to seek compensation for those that have suffered and died unnecessarily.