Preventing Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers (also known as bedsores), can result from pressure caused by prolonged immobility or devices secured to skin. They are also referred to as "skin breakdown", and usually occur on the buttocks, heels and elbows. Not only is skin breakdown uncomfortable for the patient, but it can also lead to infection and other undesirable outcomes.
What we do to reduce pressure ulcers
Our skin-breakdown reduction program includes state-of-the-art beds, an effective daily skin assessment and prevention program, and early post-surgery ambulation.
What you can do to reduce pressure ulcers
If permitted by your physician, nurse or physical therapist, you should:
- Change positions frequently. If you are confined to your bed, this means you should lift your buttocks off the mattress. You can accomplish this by grabbing the bars over your head to support your upper body weight. Do this three to four times every two hours. You may also turn from side to side in bed but only if this movement is a part of your plan of care. Please discuss this with your nurse, if they have not done so.
- Maintain a balanced diet when you are able to eat. Well-nourished patients heal more quickly.
- Notify your nurse if your leg stockings do not fit correctly.
- Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Hydrated skin resists breakdown.
- If you develop pain or discomfort in an area other than your incision, inform a member of your health care team immediately.
- Do not smoke. Smoking constricts blood vessels, reducing the flow of oxygenated blood to the skin and the removal of waste products. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop pressure ulcers and those smokers who get pressure ulcers do not heal as quickly. Reducing skin breakdown is just one of the reasons why we encourage patients to stop smoking before surgery.