Nursing Homes Get Funds To Prevent Pressure Ulcers

ALBANY—The New York State Department of Health has awarded $800,000 to 16 nursing homes to support implementation of an evidence-based best practice shown to significantly reduce pressure ulcers.

Known as “On-Time Quality Improvement for Long Term Care,” the approach to preventing pressure ulcers was developed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

A pressure ulcer (also called a bedsore) is an area of skin that breaks down when a person stays in one position for too long, putting pressure on the same spot without shifting weight. They occur most often in people who are bedridden or in wheelchairs, even for a short time after surgery or an injury.

“The State Health Department is pleased to work with AHRQ and nursing homes across New York on this important effort to improve the health and well-being of nursing home residents in the state,” said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. “In addition to creating pain and suffering, pressure ulcers can become infected, causing fever, confusion, weakness and even death. They are also very preventable, and costly to treat.”

Nursing home residents at highest risk for pressure ulcers are those in a coma and others who can’t move around or change position on their own. Among this high-risk population the incidence of pressure ulcers is 14 percent in the state (the U.S. average is 12 percent). Among low-risk patients in New York, the incidence is 2 percent (the same as the national average).

The “On-Time” program uses health information technology (HIT) to collect, analyze and promptly report back to staff the information they need to identify which nursing home residents are at risk for pressure ulcers and to track the results of their efforts to reduce risk. It has been implemented, tested and refined in more than 35 nursing homes across the nation and produced an average decrease of 33 percent in prevalence rates in the nursing homes that implemented the model.