McKnight's Long Term Care News recently reported that Australian nursing homes have begun using a new tool that promises to significantly reduce staff time devoted to managing patient incontinence: electronic underpants. This technology, called the Smart Incontinence Management System, or SIMsystem, uses an electronic moisture sensor that detects when a patient has had an accident. Then, SIMsystem sends a text message or page to staff to let them know that the patient needs their assistance. SIMsystem can be used with disposable diapers, and the article suggests that it can cut staff time spent on incontinence significantly.
As a Philadelphia nursing home neglect lawyer, I was interested in this news because more attentive care for incontinent patients could also help prevent bedsores, a common problem for nursing home patients. Bedsores form when patients are left in the same position for too long, but excess moisture from incontinence is one typical way they are aggravated. However, an electronic system can't prevent bed sores all by itself, obviously. Nursing home staff members still need to tend to patients regularly and appropriately. And even with the aid of innovative technology in patient care, adequate staffing is necessary to make sure that patients' treatment plans are followed and that there are enough staff members to go around. As a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney, I hope that nursing homes that outfit incontinent patients with the SIMsystem will not assume that this new technology means that they can get away with fewer staff members. Understaffing in nursing homes can lead to serious failures in patient care, including but certainly not limited to pressure sores. As a Philadelphia injury lawyer i believe that adequate staffing must be a top priority to make sure all the residents needs are met.
Patients in nursing homes have the right to expect that they will be well cared for, regardless of what kind of technology the nursing home employs. Paralyzed or otherwise immobile patients develop bedsores because they are unable to shift positions on their own. The Mayo Clinic's Web site points out that elderly patients have thinner skin than young people do, so they are more susceptible to bedsores. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's data show that 1 in 10 nursing home patients suffered from bedsores in 2004, showing just how common this injury is in nursing homes. The presence of severe bedsores can be evidence of nursing home negligence.