Pressure ulcers is any injury caused by unrelieved pressure; a decubitus ulcer, bedsore, or pressure sore that usually occurs in bony prominence like the shoulder blades, elbows, hip bones, sacrum, knees, ankle bones, heel and toes. These are all pressure points because they bear the weight of the body in a certain position.
Stages of Pressure Ulcers:
Stage 1 – the skin is red. The color does not return to normal when the skin is relieved of pressure.
Stage 2 – the skin cracks, blisters, or peels. There may be a shallow crater.
Stage 3 – the skin is gone, and the underlying tissues are exposed. The exposed tissue is damaged. There maybe drainage from the area.
Stage 4 – muscle and bone are exposed and damaged. Drainage is likely.
Persons at risk for pressure ulcers:
-those confined to bed or chair
-unable to move
-have loss of bowel or bladder control
-have altered mental awareness
-have problems sensing pain or pressure
-have circulatory problems
-older, obese, very thin, or malnourished
Signs of Pressure Ulcers:
– pale skin or a reddened area is the first sign of a pressure ulcer.
-pain, burning, or tingling in the area.
-some do not feel anything unusual.
Prevention/Measures to prevent pressure ulcers:
-good nursing care
-cleanliness, and skin care
-reposition the person at least every 2 hours or as scheduled in the person’s care plan . Some persons are repositioned every 15 minutes. Use pillows for support as instructed by the nurse. The 30-degree lateral position is recommended.
-prevent shearing and friction during lifting and moving procedures.
-prevent friction by applying a thin layer of cornstarch to the bottom sheets.
-provide good skin care. The skin must be clean and dry after bathing. The skin is free of moisture from urine, feces, perspiration, and wound drainage.
-minimize skin exposure to moisture. Check incontinent persons (those without bowel or bladder control) often. Also check persons who perspire heavily and those with wound drainage. Change linens and clothing as needed, and provide good skin care.
– check with the nurse before using soap. Remember, soap can dry and irritate the skin.
– apply a moisturizer to dry areas such as the hands, elbows, legs, ankles, and heels. The nurse tells you what to use and the areas that need attention.
– give a back massage when repositioning the person. Do not massage bony areas.
– keep linens, dry, and free of wrinkles.
– apply powder where skin touches skin.
– do not irritate the skin. Avoid scrubbing or vigorous rubbing when bathing or drying the person.
-use pillows and blankets to prevent skin from being in contact with skin and to reduce moisture and friction.
– keep the heels off the bed. Use pillows or devices under the lower legs from midcalf to the ankles.
– use protective devices as instructed by the nurse and care plan.
– remind persons sitting in chairs to shift their positions every 15 minutes. This decreases pressure on bony points.
– report any signs of skin breakdown or pressure ulcers immediately to the nurse.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.