Nova Scotia

Province begins tracking bedsore incidents at long-term care facilities

Health Minister Randy Delorey says tracking the incidence of bedsores will help the government take additional steps to deal with the problem.

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, can get quite large and can even penetrate to the bone if left untreated

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, occur when pressure is applied to the skin for long periods of time — such as when a person is bedridden. (Richard Buchan/Canadian Press)

The province says it has begun to track incidents of bedsores across Nova Scotia long-term care facilities. 

Health Minister Randy Delorey spoke about the decision to reporters following a cabinet meeting Wednesday.

However, Delorey would not say whether the reports would be made public. 

He said the worry about releasing the information publicly that it could potentially identify residents when there are small numbers.

"I'd have to certainly put the data through the appropriate lens before making a commitment, but I'd certainly commit to looking at what information can be made available," he said. 

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, occur when pressure is applied to the skin for long periods of time — such as when a person is bedridden. According to Nova Scotia 811's website, the ulcers can get quite large and if left untreated can even go down to the bone. 

Pressure ulcers happen most often on pressure points such as on the tailbone, shoulder blades, side of the hip joint, ankle, knee, elbow and back of the heel.

Nova Scotia 811's website says the symptoms develop in stages:

  • Stage 1: A persistent reddened or darkened area of skin appears that doesn't go away in 30 minutes.
  • Stage 2: The skin cracks or blisters.
  • Stage 3: The skin opens up and oozes. Yellow tissue may be visible.
  • Stage 4: A deep sore develops and bone or muscle may be visible. 

In a news release on Thursday, the province said it has already done the following to address the problem:

  • Asked all long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia to immediately report all people suffering from bedsores.
  • All facilities must now report all serious pressure wounds (Level 3 and 4) to the department.
  • All facilities must have "wound-care protocols" in place.

Province-wide standardized protocols coming

The Health Department said it's working on standardized protocols for wound care across the province. 

To heal, Nova Scotia 811 says pressure must be kept off the area and the wound must be kept clean and dry. Larger, deeper bedsores need special care to heal, which can take a long time. 

Delorey said in 2016, his predecessor brought in the change to require long-term care facilities to have a wound protocol.

"We've seen recently some additional incidents, so we've been looking closer at this particular area," he said. "I think this is a prudent time to dig in, get that information and it'll help inform next steps."

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