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“Avoidable” and “Unavoidable” Pressure Sores

The development of pressure sores on a client can easily go unnoticed to the untrained eye. They can cause serious infections, some of which can be lethal. Pressure sores are a major concern for any home care company.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) categorizes pressure sores under both “Avoidable” and “Unavoidable”. These definitions serve as a map for potential malpractice situations, and need to be understood by all home care companies.

“Unavoidable” pressure sores are defined as when the client developed a pressure ulcer even though the team had evaluated the client’s clinical condition and pressure ulcer risk factors; defined and implemented interventions that are consistent with client needs, goals, and recognized standards of practice; monitored and evaluated the impact of the interventions; and revised the approaches as appropriate.

“Avoidable” pressures sores are termed so because the clinical team was at fault because the process above was not implemented.

Pressure sores will be an unfortunate reality for many of your clients that are at high risk, such as those that use a wheelchair or are bed bound. You can use the CMS definitions as a starting point “checklist” to make sure that your company does everything possible to prevent, address and document pressure sore issues.

It is a good idea to assess each client for pressure sore risks at their first caregiver visit. Provide all of your caregivers with basic training about signs of pressure sores and sore prevention. A handy one page checklist tucked in a client journal can keep caregivers refreshed to this often overlooked, but serious issue.

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