If the patient is weak, paralysed or unconscious and unable to move him/herself, the caregiver needs to change the position of the patient to prevent bedsores.
These sores are caused by placing too much pressure on the skin and underlying tissue, cutting off the blood supply to the underlying tissues, causing ulcers or pressure sores.
The most common sites for pressure sores are the back of the head, the shoulders, the elbows, the base of the spine, the buttocks, the sides of the hips, the knees and the heels.
The patient’s position should be changed at least every four hours and changes in skin surface should be noted. A waterbed or mattress with alternating pressure may also help to relieve some of the discomfort.
How to treat pressure sores
According to an extract from Caring for the Sick, Nursing the Ill, the Disabled, Children, and the Elderly, if pressure sores do occur, it is vital that the patient be turned even more regularly. The manual states:
- Sores must be treated as surgical wounds.
- The doctor may remove dead tissue and pack the wound with gauze, either dry or soaked in a solution that aids healing.
- The pack allows the wound to heal from below upwards.
- The wound may also be treated with ultraviolet light.
(Thania Gopal, Health24, April 2009)
Caring for the sick, Nursing the ill, the disabled, children and the elderly, The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association, The British Red Cross Society, 2nd ed. (1988) Dorling Kindersley Ltd.