5 Mistakes That Cause Pressure Ulcers in Home Care

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Pressure ulcers, also known as "bed sores", threaten many more people than just those confined to a hospital bed. With the explosive growth of in-home care, pressure ulcers can arise even in a person's own bed. And you can't even stop there. Pressure ulcers can form when a person spends most of their day in a wheelchair too.

Here are 5 mistakes to avoid making to reduce your own risk, or the risk of someone in your care, for developing a pressure ulcer.

1. Don't ignore the risk.

Step one of course is identifying a scenario where the conditions are prime for a pressure ulcer to develop. Recognize that a person that needs to spend a lot (or all) their time in bed or in a wheelchair, they are candidates for this condition. The consistent weight from the body can cause friction on the natural protruding joints and bones we have in our bodies. Too much weight on the same place can weaken the skin and create a sore. The sore can get infected, not to mention painful, and therefore require a lot of medical care to stop them and cure them.

2. Keeping the person at risk immobile.

You've got to find a way to keep the person at risk moving periodically. Difficult though this may be for some people with certain conditions, it needs to be done, and with the right medical supplies, such as patient lifts and safe patient handling pads, mats, and belts, most people can be moved.

The point of keeping them moving is so that the consistent pressure described above in #1 doesn't have a chance to build friction and damage the skin. By moving the patient, whether that be getting them up for a short walk every 90 minutes, or merely just rotating their body into a new position while remaining in bed, will allow the skin to breathe.

The lack of air at the friction point causes the moisture and dampness that makes skin ripe for a pressure ulcer to form. So the top prevention tip is to make sure all parts of the body get time to air out on a regular basis.

3. Fail to have supplies on hand.

Another mistake is the failure to prepare for a possible pressure ulcer. Once you've identified there is a risk, you need to have skin care supplies available in case your preventive measures aren't able to keep up with the sores from forming. Once you see a sore forming, treat it and keep it clean. There are creams, gels, foams, and bandages that keep the sore clean and protected to prevent it from growing. The good news is, with proper care and treatment, a pressure ulcer can be healed.

4. Fail to find other places to move them.

Perhaps the person you're caring for does not have the capability to take short walks, either consistently, or at all. You can still probably get them up out of their bed, or out of their wheelchair, and into another type of seat.

If at all possible, see if you can get a mesh chair so that the person can sit upright for a while. The mesh material on the chair's seat and back allow the skin to breathe and stay dry, which are two important prevention strategies.

5. Fail to ask for help.

Again, moving someone can be tricky and physically difficult. If this is the case for the person you are caring for, you may tend to let them stay immobile longer than you would if they were much easier to move.

So be realistic with yourself. If you need help, get some, because it may mean the difference between a pressure ulcer leading to a serious wound that could get infected, and a healthy, comfortable, and recovering patient.

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