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Gordon-Weinberg Bill To Fight Bed Sores In Nursing Homes Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Loretta Weinberg which would require nursing homes in the State of New Jersey to use pressure redistribution mattresses to reduce the incidence of bed sores among nursing home residents was approved by the Assembly today by a vote of 78-0.

“While pressure redistribution mattresses may cost more up front than the standard spring mattresses, we cannot put a price on the continued health and wellness of our State’s most vulnerable senior citizens,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “Pressure sores are one of the most common ailments in nursing homes around the State, and if not treated properly can lead to serious health complications and even death. While these new mattresses alone won’t make bed sores an ailment of the past, they will greatly reduce the incidence of bed sores, and make their treatment much easier on the dedicated nursing home staff.”

The bill, S-1517, would require that, beginning one year after the enactment of the bill, nursing homes would be required to purchase pressure redistribution mattresses when replacing the mattresses used by nursing home residents. Pressure redistribution mattresses are designed to help alleviate the incidence of pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores. The bill would require that all mattresses within a nursing home be switched to pressure redistribution mattresses within three years after the enactment of the bill.

“In 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that New Jersey had a rate of incidence of pressure sores that was higher than the national average,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “These lesions are painful, but preventable, with proper care and a good mattress. We should do everything in our power to make sure that our most vulnerable, bed-ridden seniors receive proper care and a measure of comfort in their final years.”

A pressure ulcer or bed sore starts as a reddened skin, but gets progressively worse, forming a blister, then an open sore, and finally a crater. The most common place for bed sores to occur are over bony prominences, where the bone is close to the skin. Factors which increase the risk for pressure ulcers include being bedridden or in a wheelchair, fragile skin, chronic conditions such as diabetes or vascular disease, and the inability to move certain parts of your body without assistance.

In 2004, actor and quadriplegic Christopher Reeve died due to complications from a pressure ulcer. The ulcer formed due to Reeve’s enduring sustained periods of time in a wheelchair or bed without reposition his body to prevent pressure. Patients who are paralyzed, and thus, unable to move their bodies, are particularly susceptible to bed sores.

“These sores are more than just painful, but potentially fatal without proper care and treatment,” said Senator Gordon. “Through this legislation, we can help reduce bed sores and protect bed-ridden seniors from infection and injury.”

“Nursing homes are founded on the idea that seniors should be made safe and comfortable in their golden years,” said Senator Weinberg. “Requiring pressure redistribution mattresses will go a long way to cut down on the incidence of preventable bed sores. This bill will cut down on the long-term costs of nursing home residency and will ensure an added level of comfort for patients susceptible to bed sores.”

The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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