Nursing Home Pressure Ulcers More Likely Among Black Residents: Study

According to the findings of a new study, elderly African Americans may face a greater risk of suffering bedsores or pressure ulcers as a result of nursing home neglect

Researchers from the University of Iowa found that nursing homes that have predominantly black residents tend to have fewer resources and are less able to care for their residents than nursing homes with predominantly white residents. Their findings were published in the July 12 online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

When the researchers looked at various nursing home and long-term care facilities, they found that about 15 percent of black residents developed nursing home pressure ulcers, more commonly known as bedsores, compared to 10 percent of white patients. However, they determined that this was not due to black residents receiving less attentive care in homes than whites in the same facility, but rather was a reflection of the lack of resources that plagued homes with a majority of black residents more than homes with a majority of white residents. The researchers found that even white residents in mostly black nursing homes tended to suffer higher rates of bedsores.

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The researchers got their data from an observational cohort study of bedsores in nursing homes reported in nearly 12,500 facilities. The study looked at 2.1 million white nursing home residents and 346,808 black residents.

Also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores, bedsores can develop in a nursing home as a result of a lack of blood flow to an area of the skin caused by prolonged pressure on one area of the body. They are most commonly found in places with prominent bones beneath thin layers of skin, such as the heels, elbows and tailbone. Residents with limited mobility, who have trouble or are unable to move independently, face the greatest risk of the painful and potentially life-threatening pressure ulcers.

Most medical organizations consider bed sores to be a preventable condition that can be treated if detected early through proper diligence on the part of medical staff and care providers. Failure to prevent, identify, or properly treat bedsores can result in life-threatening infections that enter the bloodstream, known as sepsis.

In many cases, nursing home negligence lawsuits are filed on behalf of residents who develop bedsores as a result of the staffs failure to identify early signs of the sores and prevent the development of more serious decubitus ulcers.


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