Will the nurse check for bedsores or ulcers if I am in bed for a long time?

Kynthia James
Critical Care Nursing

As part of your nurses’ duties they will do a complete assessment that includes the skin. This is done to prevent the instances of bedsores and to treat to quickly if they should occur. It is also important that nurses reposition the patients who are unable to turn themselves and this will also reduce the instances of bedsores in patients.

Marianne Biangone

One of the nurse's priorities for a hospitalized patient is to prevent pressure ulcers (bed sores).  Not only are they very painful to the patient and difficult to treat, they also extend hospital stays and can become very costly to care for. 

There are four stages of pressure ulcers and they are numbered 1 through 4 (guidelines per the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). 

Stage 1:  Non-blanchable erythema of intact skin, the heralding lesion of skin ulceration. In individuals with darker skin, discoloration of the skin, warmth, edema, induration, or hardness may also be indicators.

Stage 2:  Partial thickness skin loss involving epidermis, dermis, or both. The ulcer is superficial and presents clinically as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater.

Stage 3:  Full thickness skin loss involving damage to or necrosis of subcutaneous tissue that may extend down to, but not through, underlying fascia. The ulcer presents clinically as a deep crater with or without undermining of adjacent tissue.

Stage 4:  Full thickness skin loss with extensive destruction, tissue necrosis, or damage to muscle, bone, or supporting structures (e.g., tendon, joint capsule). Undermining and sinus tracts also may be associated with Stage 4 pressure ulcers.

There are five components that can help in avoiding pressure ulcers.

  • Relieving pressure:  Position must be changed on a regular basis, at least every two hours, and in the very frail at least every hour.
  • Good diet:  A good and balanced diet contributes to healing, as well as avoiding severe nutritional and weight loss
  • Skin care:  Keep the skin clean. Moisture should be minimized. Skin care products should be used that moisturize the skin but do not make it wet or soggy.  This is especially important if the individual cannot control their bladder or bowels (incontinent)
  • Inspection:  Inspect the skin to see if any redness or breaks in the skin are developing.
  • Products and prevention:  Use products to relieve and treat pressure sores; airbeds, foam bed, bed and chair protectors, chair products, continence aids can all contribute to avoiding of bed sores.

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Nurses examine the skin when they bathe people as well as when they give other care such as putting on stockings for patients or assisting with toileting. Some patients are more susceptible to bedsores not just because they are in bed or have a lack of mobility, but also if they have certain conditions such as diabetes, impaired circulation to the extremities such as their legs and feet, anemia, and malnutrition or hydration deficits that place them at a higher risk. There are also tools that help the nurse assess the risk for developing bedsores such as the Braden scale which help the nurse focus on the patient who may be at higher risk for developing bedsores. Bedsore or pressure ulcers occur because pressure causes damage to the underlying tissue especially tissue closest to the bone. Frequent repositioning at least every two hours with a written schedule is critical to prevent bedsores.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.