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Bed sores on the increase
1:50pm Friday 22nd March 2013 in News
HEALTH bosses admit that they are scratching their heads over a sudden rise in bed sores at community hospitals in Worcestershire.
A total of eight serious pressure ulcers were reported at hospitals in Malvern, Evesham, Pershore, Tenbury and Bromsgrove during January – as many as the previous six months combined.
A pressure ulcer is the official name for what many know as a bed sore, referring to an area of localised damage to the skin, and sometimes underlying tissue, caused by a combination of pressure, movement and friction.
They are graded on a four-point scale – a level one pressure ulcer being a reddening of the skin and a grade four going right through to the muscle.
Eliminating pressure ulcers is a key concern for health bosses, not just for the comfort of patients but because hefty financial penalties can be issued when they occur.
Since December, NHS trusts can face a £500 fine for every serious – grade three or four – avoidable pressure ulcer they report.
Worcestershire NHS Health and Care Trust, which runs the community hospitals, has investigated the six grade three and two grade four bed sores which occurred in January and found that six of them were avoidable.
Sandra Brennan, director of quality, said it was very difficult to determine why there had been the sudden blip.
She said it could have been that, because of the time of year, the hospitals were dealing with a higher number of patients who were particularly serious or elderly.
She also believed that many of the pressure ulcers occurring may actually have been unavoidable, but that current checking and paperwork procedures meant they were not able to be classed as such.
Mrs Brennan said more thorough controls and training were being implemented to address this shortfall.
“Clearly we need to put measures in place so that we have no serious pressure ulcers,” she said.
Before the rise in January, the trust had been performing well on bed sores.
Only 11 serious pressure ulcers were recorded between February and December, while the trust was hailed as the region’s best by an NHS safety thermometer initiative which was run between April and September last year.
It recorded a total of 51 pressure ulcers of all grades – well below the national average of 85.