Researchers report an epidemic of bedsores among hospitalized patients
In the past 14 years, the number of hospital admissions in the U.S. has increased by only 15 percent, however, the number of patients suffering a bedsore has increased by 79 percent, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Their numbers are based on a survey of records that identified 503,000 patients admitted to U.S. hospitals in 2006 who had suffered bedsores. Bedsores (also called decubitus ulcers or pressure sores) are caused by constant pressure on the skin. The complications of bedsores can be serious and even fatal. The best method of avoiding them is to shift bedridden patients every two hours and to maintain excellent skin hygiene. Clearly, one cause of this so-called "epidemic" is the fact that the hospitalized patient population in 2006 is older, frailer and sicker than it was in 1993. Cost-cutting changes have also been made in nurse staffing that probably result in less R.N. supervision of individual patients. In any event, a researcher for the federal agency commented that "besores are preventable, but it's not easy".