BEDSORES — A BILLION DOLLAR PROBLEM?

According to the National Ducubitus Foundation, over one million people each year suffer from potentially fatal bedsores. When viewed in a hospital setting, the same studies show that approximately 10% patients at any given time are inflicted with bedsores. While this figure is shocking in of itself, the real number is probably higher because many of the medical facilities with a history of preventable bedsores did not participate in this study.

Admittedly, some cases of bedsores are unavoidable; however, a good majority of bedsores in hospitals and nursing homes are the result of pure negligence. For instance, when a nursing home resident is left to sit for 8 hours in urine soaked sheets and clothes and develops a bedsore as a result, that is negligence. When a nurse can not move her patient every two hours because the hospital is understaffed and the patient gets a bedsore, that is negligence. In cases such as these, just a little bit of attention and a few extra staff members would have done the trick.

Typically, when medical facilities are confronted with these facts, the usual response is that they cannot afford additional personnel or equipment for bedsore prevention. This is especially true in a nursing home setting, where corners are cut everywhere possible because of budget concerns. But is this really a legitimate excuse? Should the hospitals and nursing homes get a free pass because they can”t afford to implement simple procedures that will ultimately save lives? Lets take a closer look at the math to decide.

Statistics show that in year 1994, there were 6,374 hospitals in the United States with an average of 177 beds per hospital. The occupancy rate of these hospitals is 66.1%. Therefore, given the math, on average 745,740 beds were occupied on any given day. When you compare the instances of bedsores related to the hospital population, you find that on any given day, there are approximately 80,000 patients with bedsores . When that number is multiplied by the average hospital stay for patients with bedsores of 27 days, you find that over 1,000,000 patients develop potentially fatal, yet preventable bedsores per year.

Furthermore, the costs associated with bedsore care are astronomical. For example, the average cost of a hospital stay for patient over 65 is about $2,360 per day. If this same elderly patient develops a bedsore, he is now projected to stay an additional 27 days. From a financial perspective, this calculates into $50,976 in extra medical costs per bedsore patient. Multiply that number by the 1,088,778 patients developing bedsores per year to get the astronomical number of $55,000,000 that is wasted on bedsore care! Shockingly, experts agree that this is a conservative estimate because bedsore patients are required to stay longer for skin grafting and infections. Add to the mix the thousands of other patients that actually die as a result of these bedsores. To their friends and family, the loss of that life is priceless.

The sad part is that based on the numbers presented above, hospitals and nursing homes can save $44,000,000 in health care costs just by preventing bedsores. This money can be used to invest in better technology and enough personnel to provide quality care to patients and long-term residents. That is why insurance companies such as Aetna and Wellpoint now refuse to reimburse medical facilities for the costs associated with bedsore care. And while I do not agree 100% with this policy, (I think it needs to be more of a case by case decision) it”s a start.

What is clear, however, is that families should not face the loss of an otherwise healthy loved one because a billion dollar medical facility would not hire 2 additional nurses to ensure proper staffing. Similarly, beautifully landscaped and manicured nursing homes have no right to medicate patients and leave them alone for hours at a time, only to cry poor when a resident dies from a bedsore infection. The math proves this is not the case and it’s time to use this information to improve the quality of life for hospital and nursing home residents in this country.

For further information on bedsore prevention and filing a lawsuit for nursing home neglect in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, click on the following links below:

New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

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