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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to Treat Nursing Home Patient Wounds


Des Peres Hospital opened a new outpatient wound care center Monday that treats patients with chronic or non-healing wounds associated with, among other things, diabetes, pressure ulcers, trauma, peripheral vascular disease, poor circulation, immobility and other conditions.   The center offers two chambers for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to reduce swelling, fight infection and build new blood vessels, ultimately producing healthy tissue.

Pressure ulcers are the most common cause for a lawsuit against nursing homes, if they are due either to a lack of prevention or improper treatment.  The Wound Care Center by Des Peres Hospital is using some of the most advanced wound care technology available and is setting the standard of care higher for treatment of wounds.

In addition to the hyperbaric chambers, the new center has infectious-disease management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, laboratory evaluation, nutritional management, pain management, diabetic education, radiology testing and wound debridement (removal of dead tissue) to address the patient’s total health.  For more information, visit www.stlwoundcare.com.

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers, are wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin. They usually develop over bony prominences, such as the elbow, heel, hip, shoulder, back, and back of the head. Pressure ulcers are serious medical conditions and one of the important measures of the quality of clinical care in nursing homes.

From about 2% to 28% of nursing home residents have pressure ulcers.

The most common system for staging pressure ulcers classifies them based on the depth of soft tissue damage, ranging from the least severe (stage 1) to the most severe (stage 4).

There is persistent redness of skin in stage 1; a loss of partial thickness of skin appearing as an abrasion, blister, or shallow crater in stage 2; a loss of full thickness of skin, presented as a deep crater in stage 3; and a loss of full thickness of skin exposing muscle or bone in stage 4. Clinical practice guidelines for pressure ulcers have been developed and provide specific treatment recommendations for stage 2 or higher pressure ulcers, including proper wound care.

Statistics from the CDC:

  • In 2004, about 159,000 current U.S. nursing home residents (11%) had pressure ulcers. Stage 2 pressure ulcers were the most common.

  • Residents aged 64 years and under were more likely than older residents to have 

  • pressure ulcers.

  • Residents of nursing homes for a year or less were more likely to have pressure ulcers than those with longer stays. 

  • One in five nursing home residents with a recent weight loss had pressure ulcers. 

  • Thirty-five percent of nursing home residents with stage 2 or higher (more severe) pressure ulcers received special wound care services in 2004.

Data from the national nursing home survey, 2004, published in NCHS Data Brief, No. 14, February 2009.

If a hard-to-heal wound is not treated, it may get bigger and deeper over time.  This may significantly increase the patient’s chances of infection, which if severe enough, may require hospitalization. If the tissue damage from infection is extensive, the patient may need surgery or amputation.

If your loved one has received improper care or you are not certain whether a nursing home has acted below the standard of care, contact Michelle Funkenbusch at 314-799-6602 for a free consultation.  As a trial lawyer, Funkenbusch has been involved in many nursing home cases and has witnessed the lack of training of staff, the improper care, the lack of documentation of records, and the abuse that occurs regularly.   A lawyer needs to be properly trained to read nursing home records. Contact Funkenbusch for more details about her extensive experience in this area.


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