Bedsores used to be common in immobile, debilitated patients. Early in my career in the 1980’s I saw horrendous sores in hospitalized patients. Muscle and bone exposed. The hospital nurses claimed it came from nursing homes, and nursing homes claimed it came from hospitals.
Preventing pressure sores is labor-intensive, requiring staff to turn the patients every 2 hours around the clock and treat signs of pressure aggressively. A red spot that doesn’t go away is a Stage I pressure sore. You don’t wait to treat until the skin breaks down. Pressure on skin is bad.
Pressure on nursing homes, however, is good. Bedsores are now the exception, not an inevitable consequence of age and disability. The heavy jack-booted inspectors from that government program, Medicare, deserve a lot of the credit.
Summit Commons, an East Side skilled-nursing center that had until Tuesday to correct deficiencies that were deemed serious enough to put some patients in immediate jeopardy from bedsores, has met the conditions to continue participating in the federal Medicare program.
It’s not that it’s not aggravating to have some state worker do the white-glove routine, when you are up to your armpits in work and feel like you’re bailing a sinking ship. Nursing home workers run their legs off trying to keep the patients clean and safe. Facilities have a financial incentive to keep staff as low as possible.
Having a big government program with the power stand up to big nursing home chains is protection for the patients. I am really happy that nursing homes generally are better than they were twenty years ago, and that bedsores are not acceptable.