Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust reports rising number of patients with bed sores
A hospital trust has reported a rising number of elderly patients admitted with and developing bed sores during their stay.
Bed sores, known as pressure ulcers, happen when an area of skin is placed under pressure and can range from discoloured skin to open wounds exposing bone and muscle.
There were 1,055 patients admitted to Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust with bed sores between April 2012 and 2013, up from 771 the previous year.
The hospitals reported 529 cases of bed sores developed there during the same period, up from 457. Of these, the number of severe cases dropped from 39 to 24.
A trust statement said: "Over recent years, we have worked hard to make sure we are spotting pressure ulcers at the earliest opportunity, treating them properly and preventing them from occurring wherever we can.
"Because of that earlier intervention, we have reported a rise in the less serious category of pressure ulcers."
Trust staff raised awareness about the painful, sometimes deadly and costly problem to mark Stop Pressure Ulcer Day on Thursday, November 21.
Pauline Beldon, a specialist nurse who cares for patients with pressure ulcers at St Helier, said they are a major cause of distress.
Ms Beldon said: "Many of our elderly patients are admitted already suffering from pressure ulcers, and we need to raise awareness about how to prevent them amongst our increasingly ageing communities.
"We need more older people to understand the importance of hydration and diet as often dehydration can lead to confusion or a fall in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and falls and potentially more serious injury, including pressure ulceration."
Pippa Hart, director of nursing, said: "Our trust has invested in pressure relieving equipment including specialist cushions, mattresses and electric beds to help patients with pressure ulcers, but prevention and reducing pressure ulcers altogether is the ultimate goal."
Elderly patients can develop bed sores when sitting for prolonged periods and not moving much or if they become very dehydrated leading to dizziness and falls.
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