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Can Music Prevent Nursing Home Negligence?

One of the most telling signs of nursing home neglect is the existence of bedsores. Also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, bedsores are common among elderly or disabled patients who are bedridden or who are in wheelchairs, unable to move and change positions without assistance. According to nursing home industry standards, such patients need to be moved at least every two hours to prevent bedsores from forming. However, a busy staff means that doesn't always happen, which can lead to injury or even death.

A new study being performed through the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is exploring whether music can help caregivers remember to move patients and prevent bedsores. In the study, which is taking place in 10 Kentucky nursing homes, music is played over the intercom every two hours, starting in the morning hours. The music plays for approximately one minute, just long enough to remind staff to move residents and encourage those who are able to move to do so.

According to Pam Larimore-Skinner of Signature HealthCare of Trimble County in Bedford, KY, the music is a helpful reminder during busy times. "You never know when a resident might get critically ill or die. That kind of ties up your staff," she said. "With the music, it triggers the memory that we need to move everybody."

Bedsores are areas of damaged skin and tissue that occur when continual pressure cuts off blood flow to parts of the body. According to Cincinnati Professor Tracey Yap, the sores get worse if they go unchecked, causing injury and death, as well as a high cost and an increased likelihood of nursing home negligence lawsuits. "They can actually result in death, and it's extremely painful," she said. "They can cost up to $50,000 to treat one and get it fully healed. The impact on the cost of health care is huge."

Larimore-Skinner says that her facility may decide to continue the music even after the study ends in April. "I think music, in general, is a good therapeutic relief from routine," she said. "I think anything we can do for our aging population to improve their quality of life is always a plus."

If a family member has been injured as a result of nursing home negligence, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Enquirer, "Music could help prevent bedsores", Cindy Kranz, 5 January 2011

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