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Bedsores: Maine Families Can Help

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A Bedsore Is A Wound
Imagine having someone gouge a hole out of your body at the base of your spine. Down through the skin, down through the light cushion of tissue under the skin, down past muscle, right down to the bone. Raw exposed nerves fire over and over, screaming their pain message into your entire being. This wound is deep, and wide, and it constantly weeps nutrients out the hole. You can’t turn yourself, you are lying on this hole in the body, and the pain is excruciating. You get weaker every day. Strong pain medication dulls the pain, but it never goes away, and every time the medication wears off you are gripped by the pain again.

There is no need for someone to suffer this fate.

When nursing home staff allow a patient to develop this wound it feels the same to the patient as if they had a deliberately inflicted wound.

Step One: Speak Up, And Leave A Record
What can we do to help our loved one’s nursing home and physician get it right? What can we do to prevent our parents and grandparents from suffering like this?

Let’s start with knowing what this problem is.

Bedsores, Pressure Sores, Ulceration, Skin Wound. These are all words that are used to mean the same thing.

When your parent or grandparent goes into a nursing home consider doing the following:

Make sure there is a record that your loved one doesn’t have a bedsore. (If your loved has a bedsore, make sure there is a record of where it is, how wide it is, what it looks like, how long it has been present, and what is being done to treat it.)

What do I mean about making a record? I don’t mean telling the nice people who take down all the information about you parent or grandparent at the time of admission that you are concerned about the issue. Certainly, do that. However, I mean something different. I mean finding out the fax number of the nursing home and your parent’s doctor and faxing both of them a note along these lines:

Dear “X”,

My (mother/father/grandparent) is being admitted to your facility today. This is to let you know that my (mother/father/grandparent) does not have any decubitus ulcer/pressure sore at this time. Please take every measure to maintain the good condition/integrity of my (parent/grandparent)’s skin, including careful checking and documentation. If my (parent/grandparent) should develop a pressure ulcer please notify me in writing of that fact, including the location, size, stage and steps you are taking to care for the wound, including repositioning, wound care and nutrition. Please make this note a permanent part of my (mother/father/grandparent)’s chart. Thank you.

Then, fax that letter and save the facsimile transmission record.

This first step protects your family member by letting nursing home health care providers know that you are interested in being informed and that you expect them to be accountable for preventing this problem.

Tomorrow– Step Two: Take Action, And Ask The Doctor To Help
Copyright 2009 Briggs & Wholey