A group of 150 New Jersey hospitals, nursing homes and health care agencies reduced the number of patients with bedsores by 70%, "thanks mostly to low-tech interventions," according to a study conducted by the New Jersey Hospital Association, the New York Times reports. The study found that the initiative decreased the number of patients with bedsores -- caused by unrelieved pressure or friction on skin -- from 18% in September 2005 to 5% in May 2007. In addition, 48 of the institutions reported that none of their patients has had a bedsore in the first quarter of this year. To reduce the incidence of bedsores, participating facilities performed a skin evaluation on each patient within eight hours of being admitted.

Another step was the implementation of a record-keeping system that allowed nurses to recognize immediately if a patient's skin condition was deteriorating. Increased communication between facilities when patients were transferred also was credited as a factor.

Aline Holmes, senior vice president of clinical affairs for NJHA, said that while the steps needed to prevent bedsores are basic, many hospitals are not taking them because staffing is tight and because patients are being admitted to the hospital in greater numbers with more serious conditions. In addition, hospital stays are shorter, leaving less time for evaluations. Holmes called the initiative's results "amazing," adding, "We just need to get back to basics" (Hughes, New York Times, 8/5).

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