Nurses at Great Western Hospital Show What Can be Done
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: News
Pressure sores or bed sores are regarded as one of the most expensive preventable health problems in Britain’s NHS. In the public health system alone it has been estimated that over 400,000 patients develop pressure sores every year and that figure doesn’t take into account the number of residents in care homes and residential homes who also suffer from this painful and unnecessary condition.
It has long been recognised that the development of pressure sores is due to a failure to monitor and prevent what is an entirely preventable but potentially deadly problem. As pressure sores normally only develop as a result of systematic negligence it becomes a legal issue as well as a medical issue. The NHS, private hospitals and nursing homes are regularly the recipients of expensive personal injury lawsuits costing millions of pounds in legal fees and compensation payments annually. The true cost of pressure sores to the NHS, for instance, has not been fully calculated, but one estimate made in 2003 of between 0.4% and 0.8% of the NHS budget has been judged as a serious underestimate*.
It’s not all bad news. Nurses at Great Western Hospital (GWH) in the South West of England have shown what can be done to minimize the incidence of bed sores through a concerted action plan focusing on effective monitoring and preventative treatment whenever early warning signs of developing sores are discovered.
GWH has managed to reduce its bedsore incidence in its wards by 60% in the last 3 years alone. The hospital now has the lowest pressure sore incidence in the South West. Only 15 out of every 15,000 patients are now expected to develop pressure sores every year.
The secret of GWH’s success is simple. It starts with a skin examination of all incoming patients within 2 hours of arrival. The exam is followed by regular monitoring. All nurses are trained to recognise the early signs of pressure sores, such as reddening of the skin. Specially developed air beds are used which help to ensure that patients do not stay under pressure in the same position all the time. Attention is paid to diet and general health, which can influence pressure sore development.
GWH community nurses recently gave a presentation at GWH’s Orbital Shopping Park in order to spread the message about pressure sores and how they can be avoided and treated. The air beds were on display and a nutritionist was present to explain about the importance of a good diet. The presentation was aimed at care workers and staff from nearby nursing homes who are at the front line of pressure sore treatment.
A spokeswoman from GWH, Laura Devill, who works as a tissue viability nurse, acknowledged that lessons learned about pressure sores needed to be spread out into the health care community. She said that professionals like physiotherapists and occupational therapists need to be able to recognise and deal with pressure sores even after patients have left hospital.
Pressure sores are not inevitable. They are entirely preventable. It is cheaper for all hospitals and nursing homes to prevent pressure sores than treating them when it is too late and then dealing with personal injury lawsuits brought by irate and worried relatives.