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A study of Medicare patient records found that patients who developed bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, while in the hospital had a higher mortality rate, were more likely to have an extended hospital stay, and were more likely to have to return to the hospital within a month after being released, according to

Though the study was restricted to records from hospitalized Medicare patients, the findings were helpful in identifying which patients are at a higher risk for pressure sores or for the development of one or more pressure ulcers during a hospital stay. Those with chronic conditions (such as heart disease, arthritis, or orthopedic impairments) are most at risk for dying from a bedsore.

Because bedsores can potentially put a patient at greater risk of death, hospitals and caretakers should take extra precautions. According to, bedsores can develop for a number of reasons, including:

  • Age. Older people are more at risk due to the dryness, fragility, and lack of circulation that is more likely to occur in their skin.
  • Lack of mobility. Having to stay in bed for an extended period of time cuts down circulation to certain areas of the body, especially those where bones are closer to the surface. This puts that area more at risk for the skin and flesh to break down and create a pressure ulcer.
  • Poor diet. Patients who don’t eat well will have less healthy skin and body tissues, putting them more at risk.
  • Moisture. Bodily fluids or other liquids left against the skin soften it and make it more likely to break down.

Not surprisingly, the Medicare study showed that most bedsores occur on the tailbone, hip, buttocks, and heels — those parts of the body that rest on the bed. If a patient must be bedridden for an extended amount of time, it’s important to try and make sure the patient changes position often so that the same areas of skin are not left under the same amount of pressure for long periods of time. Any objects that could irritate the skin should be kept away, and bed sheets should be kept clean and smoothed.

Healthcare providers' attention to the above causes of and ways to prevent pressure ulcers will not only make patients more comfortable but also potentially save their lives.

Family and friends should also note the condition of a loved one's skin when visiting him or her in a nursing home or hospital. Early detection of a bedsore could save his or her life.

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected, be sure to contact a nursing home neglect attorney to review the facts of your potential case.

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