A recent study conducted by the University of Iowa revealed that black nursing home residents are more likely than their white counterparts to develop bedsores (pressure ulcers, decubitis ulcers). In a five year study conducted at nursing homes throughout the country, researchers found that black residents were roughly five percent more likely to develop decubitus ulcers than white residents. Although the study does not promulgate definitive conclusions as to the cause of this discrepancy, several factors could be at play. Lack of funding, substandard training, and understaffing at predominantly black homes are potentially all contributing factors. Medical factors, such as diabetes, may also play a role. According to the American Diabetes Association, blacks are more likely than whites to be diagnosed with the disease.
Underqualified or insufficient staffing is a problem endemic to the nursing home industry. For reasons such as pay scale, stress, or insufficient screening during the hiring process, it seems that many of the problems that arise out of nursing homes are caused by poorly trained or over-worked staff. Regardless of the cause of these issues, however, it is a patient’s right to be cared for by a competent, knowledgeable staff. As Title 42 (Public Health) of the Code of Federal Regulations states in Section 483.20(k)(3)(ii), “[T]he services provided or arranged by the facility must be provided by qualified persons in accordance with each resident’s plan of care.” This right provided by the Code is guaranteed to residents of any race or skin tone. And although, as evidenced in the study, the rate of pressure ulcer cases does seem to be in moderate decline nationwide, the discrepancy between black and white residents is one that should be addressed further to ensure that such cases continue to decline across all races.
Website Resource: Blacks in nursing homes have higher risk of sores
Reuters, Genevra Pittman, July 12, 2011