Diagnosis and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers
While some pressure ulcers never heal completely, most can effectively heal with the right treatment. If you or a loved one has a pressure ulcer, check out the following guide to diagnosis and treatment.
What are pressure ulcers?
Pressure ulcers are more commonly known as bedsores. They are injuries to the skin and the underlying tissue.
They are caused by the skin experiencing prolonged pressure. Therefore, most people who are at risk from pressure ulcers are those who have medical conditions that require them to spend a lot of time in bed or a chair or who have limitations in changing positions.
Pressure ulcers most commonly develop on bony areas of the body, such as ankles, hips, and heels. The ulcers can develop over a period of hours or days.
Sadly, seeing as pressure ulcers often affect people with medical conditions who are confined to bed, they can affect people in nursing homes if the right care isn’t provided. Nurses and other staff members should ensure people who are at risk of bedsores are repositioned regularly.
If the appropriate care isn’t given and a nursing home resident develops pressure ulcers, it could be a sign of medical negligence. In such events, make sure you contact attorneys for pressure ulcer cases to see if you or your loved one can pursue compensation.
Diagnosing Pressure Ulcers
When someone sees a doctor for a pressure ulcer diagnosis, the first thing the doctor will do is look at the skin.
Once the doctor has examined the skin, he or she will assign a stage to the wound. By determining the stage that the wound is at, the doctor can identify the best course of treatment.
During the consultation, the doctor will also ask a series of questions to determine things like when the ulcers began and whether the person has had a pressure ulcer in the past. The doctor may also perform a blood test to assess the person’s overall health.
Treating Pressure Ulcers
Treatment for pressure ulcers involves caring for the wounds, reducing the pressure on the affected skin, removing damaged tissue, and controlling the pain. In serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
Cleaning and Dressing Pressure Ulcer Wounds
The wounds will need to be cleaned and dressed, but the precise type of care depends on how deep the wounds are. If the skin isn’t broken, it can be cleaned with a gentle cleanser and pat-dried. For open wounds, a water or saline solution can be used when the dressing is changed.
As for the dressing, simple bandages can help to speed up the healing process. Bandages can keep the wounds moist and protect against infection. Types of bandages that could be used include films, foams, gels, gauzes, and treated coverings. Sometimes, a combination of dressings works best.
Strategies for reducing pressure include repositioning the person’s body and using support surfaces, such as mattresses and special cushions that provide the right level of support and protect the areas of vulnerable skin.
Removing Damaged Tissue
It may be necessary to remove damaged tissue to ensure the wounds heal properly, as pressure ulcers cannot heal completely if they include dead, damaged, or infected tissue.
Damaged tissue could be removed by flushing the pressure ulcers with water or it may be necessary to cut out the damaged tissue.
Controlling the Pain
When someone has a large pressure ulcer, it may require surgery. The main method of surgery employed for bedsores is using a pad of your skin, muscle, or other tissue to cover the ulcer and cushion the bone that has been affected. That is known as flap surgery.