Pressure ulcers among elderly patients can be quite painful and may contribute to other medical conditions if not managed properly. Among bedridden elderly patients, it is critical that nurses and care providers change the position of the patient several times in order to reduce cases of pressure ulcers. Conditions and degrees of severity differ significantly among elderly patients. Immediate treatments could reduce cases of severe pain, discomfort, and alleviate suffering. It is the role of nursing homes to provide adequate care for elderly patients and reduce cases of negligence, which are responsible for a significant number of pressure ulcers. Negligence is a violation of any patient’s rights, including minorities.
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The issue of pressure ulcers among elderly patients remain controversial because several cases result from nursing home negligence. While pressure ulcers are treatable, and elderly patients can recover from them and avoid worsening conditions, many nursing homes have continued to ignore cases of pressure ulcers. The case is worse among the minority communities, particularly among the Hispanic elderly who receive poor healthcare. In 1996, Lyder noted that pressure ulcer was becoming a major source of health problem among weak elderly patients (Lyder, 1996). The author noted that Latinos were among the fastest-growing segment of the population in the subgroup of the elderly in the United States. The growth was evident in the group of the ‘oldest of the old’, which represented elderly persons aged 85 years and above (Lyder, 1996, p. 257). Lyder estimated that number of the oldest of the old Latinos and other minorities was expected to increase by over “24 percent within the next five decades” (Lyder, 1996, p. 257). As a result, it was fundamental to identify, avoid, and successfully control pressure ulcers among Hispanic minorities. The issue has become critical because there are few studies on the prediction and management of pressure ulcers among ethnic minority groups. Hence, few studies and relevant data make prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers among the Hispanic elderly extremely difficult.
Jaul conducted a study on a pressure ulcer and observed that it was a growing problem in the whole framework of the healthcare sector, including private homes, clinics, hospitals, and other long-term care homes (Jaul, 2010). There was no apparent reason that led to worsening conditions of pressure ulcers among elderly patients except negligence. Some patients remained with the condition throughout their lifetime. In addition, many patients who had pressure ulcers of “grade 3 and 4 developed chronic wounds while some cases led to deaths due to ulcer-related complications (sepsis or osteomyelitis)” (Jaul, 2010, p. 311). Apart from deaths, pressure ulcers also lead to a geriatric condition with multifactorial pathological complications. In other words, there are a number of complications, which arise from immobility, poor diets, and other chronic diseases due to pressure ulcers. These complications have several predisposing factors that are responsible for increased vulnerability among elderly patients.
In 2002, some stakeholders noted that pressure ulcers continued to increase, and they observed high costs of medication for many patients with pressure ulcers in long-term care facilities (Lyder, Shannon, Empleo-Frazier, McGeHee and White, 2002). Incidence rate of pressure ulcers ranged from 2.2 percent to 23.9 percent in long-term care facilities. Today, the health sector is under pressure to reduce costs of healthcare provisions. Nevertheless, issues associated with avoidable pressure ulcers continue to increase to the cost of care. Lyder and colleagues noted that the cost of caring for pressure ulcer patients remained difficult to determine. However, they provided a rough estimate at the range of $500 to $50,000 for every case of ulcer (Lyder et al., 2002). Costs of caring for severe wounds were significantly higher than other cases. However, these costs did not include expenses for managing severe ache and anguish related to pressure ulcers. Given rising costs of medical care, the desire to tackle causes, treatment, and prevention of pressure ulcers has turn into a critical area of medical interests. Such costs make pressure ulcers to be among sentinel events that require long-term care with significant costs of treatment and management.
This article notes that pressure ulcers have increased significantly, and would continue to be severe among rising populations of the minority Hispanic elderly. Pressure ulcers are preventable and treatable, but they result from negligence, which is common in many healthcare facilities. The affected Hispanic elderly patients suffer financial costs, severe pain, and even deaths while others live with such conditions throughout their lives. Given such severe outcomes, the situation is likely to get worse than its today’s status for minority Hispanic elderly patients if no proper prevention and treatment are in place for pressure ulcers. In addition, availability of few studies in pressure ulcers among Hispanic elderly populations makes prevention and treatment difficult. Hence, it is upon the nursing fraternity to prevent pressure ulcers among elderly patients, especially those with limited mobility and vulnerable skins.
Jaul, E. (2010). Assessment and management of pressure ulcers in the elderly: current strategies. Drugs & Aging, 27(4), 311-25. Web.
Lyder, C. (1996). Examining the Inclusion of Ethnic Minorities in Pressure Ulcer Prediction Studies. Journal of Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing, 23(5), 257- 260.
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Lyder, C., Shannon, R., Empleo-Frazier, O., McGeHee, D., and White, C. (2002). A Comprehensive Program to Prevent Pressure Ulcers in Long-Term Care: Exploring Costs and Outcomes. Ostomy Wound Manage, 48(4), 52-62.