More than two-and-a-half million Americans develop pressure ulcers each year and about 60,000 die from complications. Dr. Joyce Black is a University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing associate professor and says they are commonly referred to as bed sores. She says these ulcers develop due to pressure on the soft tissues when patients don’t move or continuously slide down in a chair. The blood in the area stops and the tissue dies.
Dr. Black says the best prevention is to make sure the patient doesn’t remain on one position for long periods of time. They usually occur on the buttocks, tailbone and hell and develop in individuals who are frail. Patients in hospitals and nursing home facilities are more prone than others.
She says early symptoms include pain, redness or a purple color to the skin. The can develop in just three hours and those most at risk are those in hospitals or nursing homes. She says some can get infected and a hole in the skin can develop and reach down to the bone. Surgeries to repair that can cost upwards of $100,000 and the government won’t reimburse Medicare and Medicaid expenses if a patient gets a pressure sore.
They can be deadly. Actor Christopher Reeves died from complications resulting from a pressure ulcer.