A black or blue mark on the skin – what is that called? A bruise? An abrasion? A scratch? A pressure ulcer? What does it mean for your loved one in an acute care, hospital or nursing home setting, that he has abrasions, bruises, scratches or pressure ulcers?
Each term means something very different – but sadly, they are often used interchangibly. Pressure ulcers occur when the skin breaks down as a result of pressure. This happens in persons who are not moved frequently, perhaps always in a bed, or chair in the same position. How do you treat these? The federal government has a set of guidelines for pressure Ulcer treatment (see http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=7006). Many states have developed their own as well (see Mass. http://www.masspro.org/HS/docs/tools/Pressure%20Ulcer%20Manual.pdf) Where do state and federal organizations get their information about pressure ulcers? From the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, which just in the last few months, has updated their research and regulations for pressure ulcer identification and treatment. http://www.npuap.org/pr2.htm. Does your loved one’s nursing home know about the update system? Ask them – and then ask, is the bruise you see on your loved one’s arm, a Bruise, scratch abrasion or worse?