Govt. Medical College Hospital at Omandurar looks at expanding care for bedridden patients

Jayanthi, Dean, Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, inspecting the bed sore ward in Chennai on Saturday.

Jayanthi, Dean, Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, inspecting the bed sore ward in Chennai on Saturday. | Photo Credit: B.VELANKANNI RAJ

In a year, the pressure sore care ward of the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Estate, has treated 50 patients who were bedridden and presented with sores of various grades. With this experience in hand as well as learnings from an ongoing observational study, the hospital has plans to increase the number of beds from five to 50 with better equipment, including a patient hoist system.

R Jayanthi, Hospital Dean, said of the 50 patients aged between 18 and 90, 14 were women and 36 men. A majority of them were from Vellore, Cuddalore, Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts. About 84% of them were from lower economic sections. Many patients were referred through the Spinal Injured Persons Association (SIPA). Such wards for treatment of pressure sores came after several efforts and pleas, A. Karunakaran, President of SIPA, said.

“We have been helping persons with spinal injuries for 10 years. One of the main issues that many experience are bed sores, which are life-threatening if not treated. During COVID-19, we found nearly 500 persons who had bed sores and nearly 50 of them died in 2020 and 2021. We took up the issue with the Health Minister following which wards were set up in government medical college hospitals,” he said.

dr Jayanthi said they had taken up an observational study to see how care for such patients could be improved and the superiority of various treatments.

Of the 50, 29 patients were bedridden due to traumatic injuries, mainly road traffic accidents (16) causing paraplegia/quadriplegia. Twelve sustained injuries in falls from a height (tree, buildings). Neurological illness such as stroke, diabetic foot ulcers, Parkinson’s and Alzhiemer’s disease were the reasons behind non-traumatic bedridden patients.

About 70% of the patients presented with Grade 3 pressure sores that had muscle involvement, 20% had Grade 2 ulcers (skin and subcutaneous tissue) and 10% had Grade 4 (bone depth).

Severe bedsore was mainly caused due to the delay in approaching hospitals, failure to notice the wound early and seeking home remedy.

She said most of them were treated with special alpha beds, water beds, nursing care with frequent position changing, vacuum therapy and daily dressing. A total of 17 patients required surgical procedure for covering the wounds with graft/flap.

Doctors observed that most of these patients had underlying depression, including 12 patients who had major psychiatric illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychiatrists addressed these issues through counseling and psychotherapy. The main reason for depression and stress was a sense of helplessness among the patients due to dependence and unemployment after the injury.

dr Jayanthi said that lifting the patients was a difficult task both for attenders and nurses. “As part of our future plans, we want to have an exclusive ward with a patient hoist system. This will help to mobilize the patients for dressings and for their personal needs,” she said.


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