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Study Finds Black Nursing Home Residents Have Higher Risk of Bed Sores

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that black patients are more likely to develop pressure ulcers in nursing homes where there are predominantly more black patients than white patients. An article on Reuters.com quotes the study author, Yue Li, as saying, “In general, nursing homes are lacking appropriate resources” and that in homes with more black patients, “the problems are particularly pronounced.”

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores, happen when the same patch of skin is exposed to too much pressure, and generally happens to patients who are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair. The key to preventing bedsores is making sure the patient is moved or repositioned at regular intervals. Researchers noted that having enough nurses to monitor patients is particularly important to preventing bedsores.

The study followed cases of pressure ulcers in more than 12,000 nursing homes from 2003 to 2008. During that time, the rate of pressure ulcers decreased in patients, but black residents remained more likely to get sores than white residents.

One reason given by the researchers to explain their findings includes that nursing homes with more black patients may not be as well funded or they may not have enough staff. Also, there could be differences in the amount of time a nurse spends with patients and how well those nurses know the procedures for preventing sores.

Nancy Bergstrom, of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, is quoted in the article as saying, “Time of staff and training of staff and staff stability in nursing facilities are very pivotal to improving care.”


No one, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or social standing, should be denied the care they need when they are in a skilled nursing facility. If you have made the decision to move a loved one to a nursing home, ask the facility about their staff to patient ratio. Also, ask if all their staff are aware of the procedures for preventing bedsores. And if you do suspect that a loved one in a nursing home is not receiving the care they deserve, contact the nursing home neglect attorneys at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates for a free review of your case.