Wound care for elderly residents represents an important facet of medical care provided by nursing homes. Wounds such as bedsores, lesion, and acute abrasions/gashes are common among seniors due to their inability to ambulate as easily as they used to. In addition, nursing home residents may have surgical wounds after returning from a hospital. When people grow older their skin’s ability to heal itself diminishes. Accordingly, if a resident is inflicted with a bedsore or other acute wound, nursing home staff need to provide proper care so it doesn’t fester and lead to other serious complications.
In general, wound care treatment in nursing homes involves cleaning wounds, changing dressings and antibiotic therapy. Upon admission, the admitting nurse should do a full body check that includes the use of a Braden, Norton or other valid skin risk assessment tool. The nurse should remove dressings from any and all lesions to see the status of wounds. If the resident has healed or existing pressure ulcers, he/she should be considered at risk. The pressure ulcers should be staged and documented. The length, width, depth, eschar, odor, drainage and peri-wound should be recorded in the patient’s chart.
After the initial evaluation, the registered nurse should work with physicians to coordinate the care and services needed for proper healing. The severity of the wound and other wound specific circumstances are used determine what care is needed. For example, bacterial overgrowth or infections may need to be treated with a topical or systemic antibiotic. Generally, necrotic tissue needs to be debrided for proper healing. In cases of extensive wounding or trauma, skin graft surgery may be required.
After the initial evaluation, nursing homes should monitor a resident’s healing on a regular basis and be alert for complications associated with wounds, such as sepsis. Unfortunately, studies have shown that many nursing homes do not provide wound care in accordance with clinical practice guidelines. For example, in 2004, data from a national nursing home survey found that only 35 percent of nursing home residents with stage 2 or higher (more severe) pressure ulcers received special wound care services and that only 40% of nursing home residents with stage 4 pressure ulcers received special wound care. This suggests that only a minority of nursing home residents with bedsores received wound care treatment in accordance with clinical practice guidelines.
If you believe that a nursing home or long-term care facility has provided negligent wound care to a loved one, it is important to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to understand your legal options. Call attorney Brent Wieand for a free,no-obligation consultation.