Labeling and nomenclature can have a profound effect on how we look at certain issues. Some years ago, the automobile insurance industry pushed to rename “car accidents” to “car collisions” to highlight what they really were: crashes between vehicles, not mistakes. As nearly all collisions result from a motorist’s error, the newer terminology was seen as a better way to describe the situation that plagues millions of Americans annually.
In a similar fashion, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (“NPUAP”) has changed its terminology from “pressure ulcer” to “pressure injury” to refer to injuries the public commonly calls “bed sores.” The organization reports that the change in name “more accurately describes pressure injuries to both intact and ulcerated skin.”
The name change also reflects that these conditions are true injuries which are harming some of our most vulnerable citizens including the elderly and those with other medical conditions that limit their mobility.
Put simply, a pressure injury is a localized area of damage to a person’s skin, whether it is intact or open. Often, a pressure injury occurs over a bony surface or other part of the body that protrudes and forms when constant weight is applied to the area. Most often, pressure injuries plague those who spend a great deal of time in one position or location, including those who are bedridden, who use a wheelchair to ambulate, and those who rely upon others for assistance to move. For these reasons, Illinois nursing homes and hospitals are prime areas for the formation of pressure injuries to take place.
However, pressure injuries should never be seen as an inevitable part of aging or of being a nursing home patient. Rather, they are signs of nursing home abuse or neglect or of wrongdoing in other medical settings. Typically, they will not form if patients are given the level of care and assistance they both deserve and need including the use of regular turns for those confined to a bed.
Along with the updated nomenclature of pressure injuries, NPUAP also revised the staging used to describe these conditions and the definitions that accompany them. Pressure injuries can be described as a stage 1 through 4, an unstageable pressure injury, or a deep tissue pressure injury depending on the characteristics they display. Further classification of these injuries based upon their degrees can enable medical professionals to appropriately assess and treat these conditions and, in some cases, can be an indication of how long the injury was developing before examination.
When you place a loved one in a nursing home or when a family member seeks treatment at a hospital, you should be able to rely upon the staff and physicians at that particular facility to provide quality care. If that does not happen and injuries result, the laws in Illinois may provide rights and protections to those victims who need not only help but the ability to recover and move beyond these incidents of neglect.
Prior Blog Entry:
Choosing the Right Nursing Home in Illinois, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, published May 2, 2016.
National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) announces a change in terminology from pressure ulcer to pressure injury and updates the stages of pressure injury, National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP), published April 13, 2016.