When considering the pain and dangerous infection risks of bedsores, you may also consider the fact that they can cause permanent damage and even be life threatening if sepsis sets in. In addition to the patient medical concerns, there is also the consideration of the expense of treating complications. However, the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City has discovered that concerted medical efforts have made a big difference in the prevention of patient bedsores and other items that can endanger a patient’s health. A good part of these efforts involve the use of electronic medical records, according to Truman’s director of nursing infomatics, Amye Gilio.
Consider the way that a hospital treats and tracks patient bedsores (which are professionally known as pressure ulcers). Here, the patients that arrive at Truman Medical Center will receive a thorough exam in which it will be determined if a patient already has bedsores. These can appear in areas where the bone may rub the skin across a small section of the patient’s bed. The tailbone is a particularly vulnerable area for bedsores. If a bedsore is identified, then it is noted in an electronic chart which will then automatically trigger the necessary monitoring of that condition.
This electronic triggering of the bedsore monitoring will be in effect and will request treatment, even if the patient has come in for some other health issue that may require urgent treatment. In addition, the patient is also appropriately tagged for risks associated with bedsores according to their health profile. These factors will include; age, nutrition, wheelchair use, incontinence, time in bed and issues with mobility resulting from injury or chronic illness. The increased risk factors will determine the number of bedsore examinations. All of this is completely governed by EMR electronic charting entries that may even stipulate high tech beds in order to reduce pressure on the skin.
The EMR entries can also alert nurses of the risk of bedsores and will remind them to assist patients with movement difficulties or to have a patient roll over in their bed. This electronic fueled effort has paid big dividends when it comes to medical center budget. Between June 2010 and May 2011, Truman saw bedsores among its patients decline by 32%. In addition, that cut the costs of care by $1.39 million. That’s represents almost a rounding error for a hospital that provides $108 million a year in uncompensated patient care. But a million dollars is, as they say, still a million dollars. The one thing that can’t be measured in money is the alleviation of patient suffering and the possibility of actually saving a patient’s life.