According to information published officially by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), pressure-related injuries in Australian hospitals are a major issue. It costs billions of dollars every year and unnecessary pain to helpless patients. Unnecessary being the keyword, the main reason why pressure ulcers are considered to be such a nuisance is that they are preventable injuries, which means that both the pain and the expenses could be avoided for the most part, by taking the right precautions.
An Overview of the Situation
According to the same report as cited above, a few facts regarding pressure injuries (PI) in Australian hospitals are as follows:
• The total cost of PI treatment was estimated to be A$983 million/year in 2012-13
• The opportunity cost was estimated to be A$820 million/year
• 524,661 bed days were estimated to be lost on account of PI
Although more updated results have not been released officially, all unofficial estimates point towards there being a marked increase in the number of PI incidents and consequent costs. On taking into account that the growth of the Australian population between 2013 (23.15 million)and 2019 (25.2 million) has not been significant, it becomes obvious that perhaps more attention towards the prevention of pressure ulcers is necessary in public and private healthcare even today.
Taking a Look at the Possible Options
Bedsores can turn out to be particularly complicated to deal with when the patient is comatose/paralysed/temporarily incapacitated/permanently incapacitated/severely weakened/diabetic or compromised in any other way that makes it difficult for them to heal from current pressure injuries and prevent future incidents of the same.
However, it’s still a preventable injury, and there are effective ways to eliminate them almost completely in a majority of such situations by simply taking the right precautions.
If the patient cannot change his/her position on their own, nurses/family members in charge of the patient’s medical care must do so on their behalf. Setting an alarm for every two hours is the standard procedure, which can prove to be difficult in a household setting, but should not be so in a hospital setting.
Use of Static Mattresses
It is a cause for surprise that in spite of the easy availability of static mattresses for sale or rent in Sydney Australia, the number of people with pressure ulcers is getting so high every year. The pressure-relieving design of these mattresses is medically engineered to relieve pressure from the point of skin contact, redistributing it throughout the mattress. This in turn, decreases the chances of PI down significantly, even if the patient stays in the same position for more than two hours. Furthermore, they are ideal for home care, where family members may fall asleep during the night and not be able to change the patient’s position for a long time.
A combination of the static mattress and proper nursing practice can and often does prevent the development or recurrence of bedsores quite effectively. It remains to be seen though, how much of this knowledge has actually been put into use by the Australian healthcare system when the next report from the CSIRO is published.