William Dieser, resident of St. Louis, Missouri, was admitted to a hospital in 2008 for a surgery to address a cyst on his pancreas. His pancreas’ problem was solved, but an even more painful and equally dangerous problem - a bedsore - developed. A severe bedsore, an open wound, developed on his backside from hours spent in a bed without moving in an intensive care unit (ICU).
His sores got so bad that they reached all the way to the bone and took two additional surgeries to repair. Dieser, who is 65 years old and retired, paid an additional $33,000 in medical bills just for the bedsore treatment. Upset over the additional surgeries and cost, he realized that he should not have gotten a bedsore in the hospital following his surgery. He sued the hospital in 2009 for the improper care he received. After a 6-year- court-case, the court sided with Dieser asking the hospital to pay him $883,000.
Happy with the court’s decision which gave him a financial payment as justice for the poor care, Dieser reflects that he would have preferred to avoid getting the condition in the first place. The money he won through the courts will not erase the memories of the great pain he had to deal with. “I don’t know how to explain how much pain that was. It was a horrible experience,” Dieser said.
What is bedsore?
Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores are common, expensive, and dangerous wounds. They develop as complications from health issues that limit movement. They can affect anyone with limited mobility. Bedsores generally affect patients following surgery, the elderly, the handicap, stroke patients, and diabetics. If you have ever had your bottom hurt from sitting too long on a chair, you have suffered the beginning stages of a bedsore.
Bedsores can develop anywhere that is boney such as your tailbone, shoulder blade, and heel. They can cause extreme pain and suffering due to the loss of skin and muscle which can leave the bone
exposed. Constant pressure on the skin from sitting or lying down without regular movement prevents blood flow from reaching the area. A low level of blood flow causes the loss of skin and muscle. The resulting exposed bone puts the person at risk for getting a deadly infection called sepsis.
How common are bedsores?
They are a huge and growing health problem around the world. They are a common condition in all health care setting though they are rarely talked about. In the US, each year 2.3 million people get the condition and 60,000 of them die as a result. They are so common that they have led to the death of several wealthy and prominent public figures such as Christopher Reeves (Super Man), Casey Kasem (US radio personality), and Nelson Mandela (former president of South. Africa).
Why are bedsores so common?
Bedsores are a common problem in hospitals, home care, and long term care for two main reasons. Firstly, bedsore prevention requires regular and consistent monitoring, movement, and care. This requires time and technology that is not always readily available or too expensive. The inability to receive the necessary and consistent care greatly increases the risk of developing a bedsore as a deadly complication.
Additionally, identifying a bedsore at its early stage when it’s easy to treat can be very difficult since the diagnostic test is manual. The manual blanch test (MBT), the early diagnostic test for a bedsore, relies on a caregiver to use their finger to “feel” and or their eyes to “see” changes in the health of the skin. It’s not reliable or accurate. In the modern era of medicine with digital thermometers and electronic blood pressure cuffs, this approach is outdated. The MBT is so limited in its use that its lack of reliability increases as skin color gets darker. The MBT does not work on dark skin color. This results to a higher portion of people of color and African Americans getting bedsores. Technology that can reliably monitor a developing bedsore on all skin colors and support frequent movement will make the condition less common.
Why are bedsores an important healthcare problem?
Bedsores are very common and expensive. Once developed, they can be very difficult and expensive to treat and heal leading to chronic open wounds, amputations, or death. Developing a bedsore increases feelings of fear and anxiety that lowers the individual’s ability to socialize and cope with stress which can lead to depression. It is therefore important to be vigilant and proactive about your care to prevent bedsores.
If you know someone who is going to have major surgery, has a sickle cell anemia, diabetes, or has any mobility impairments due to age, spinal cord injury, stroke, cancer, or disability, talk to their doctor or caregiver about what you can do to support your loved one’s bedsore (pressure ulcer) prevention and management care.
For more information and resources about bedsores visit us http://rubitection.com/ .
More information on Dieser’s story visit the St-Louis Post-Dispatch.
• Sanna Gaspard, PhD, CEO, Rubitection
• Runix Wang, communications, Rubitection
• For more information on this story contact firstname.lastname@example.org