question and answer
Be quick to avert bedsores
December 2009
What’s the minimum time it can take for bedsores to develop in a bedridden patient? CATHY SCULLION, MD, Toronto, ON

In the right individual, the critical tissue perfusion injury time can occur in 30 minutes. If the person is malnourished, emaciated, anemic, hypoxemic and hypotensive, any compression point can lead to rapid infarction of tissue. High-risk patients include our frail elderly, and patients in critical care with multi-organ system failure.

Patients at risk for pressure ulceration can be identified by using risk assessment tools such as the Braden Tool. Those identified as being at high risk should be placed on a low-pressure surface. These can range from airflow beds, to special low air loss mattresses.

The best wound is no wound. Identification of patients who are at high risk must be done as early as possible, so they can be put on the proper bed surface. Having a protocol in place in your institution can be very valuable in heading off this common and significant care problem.

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