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Low-Tech Interventions Reduce Bed Sores By 70%

Armen Hareyan's picture

A group of 150 New Jersey hospitals, nursing homes and health careagencies reduced the number of patients with bedsores by 70%, "thanksmostly to low-tech interventions," according to a study conducted bythe New Jersey Hospital Association, the New York Timesreports. The study found that the initiative decreased the number ofpatients with bedsores -- caused by unrelieved pressure or friction onskin -- from 18% in September 2005 to 5% in May 2007. In addition, 48of the institutions reported that none of their patients has had abedsore in the first quarter of this year. To reduce the incidence ofbedsores, participating facilities performed a skin evaluation on eachpatient within eight hours of being admitted.

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Another step wasthe implementation of a record-keeping system that allowed nurses torecognize immediately if a patient's skin condition was deteriorating.Increased communication between facilities when patients weretransferred also was credited as a factor.

Aline Holmes,senior vice president of clinical affairs for NJHA, said that while thesteps needed to prevent bedsores are basic, many hospitals are nottaking them because staffing is tight and because patients are beingadmitted to the hospital in greater numbers with more seriousconditions. In addition, hospital stays are shorter, leaving less timefor evaluations. Holmes called the initiative's results "amazing,"adding, "We just need to get back to basics" (Hughes, New York Times, 8/5).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.