A Concerning Rise in the Rate of Unhealed Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Homes

The percentage of patients with unhealed pressure ulcers in nursing homes has experienced a concerning rise since COVID began striking nursing homes in the first quarter of 2020. As nursing homes began taking in more acute patients in Q3, 2019 as a result of PDPM – we saw a slight rise in the rate of unhealed pressure ulcers. More acuity translates into more wounds and longer time to heal. Under the COVID era, which continues to this day but shows signs of nearing a much-anticipated end, the rate of unhealed pressure ulcers has continued to grow, from 6.9% at the start of COVID, to 8.5% as of Q1, 2021. This rise was apparent even when we controlled for the drop in occupancy during modeling.

The same pattern has manifested in most states, with the rise more severe than in others.

The next six months will be an important time for nursing homes to reassert their skin integrity and wound programs, especially as regulatory and legal risk(s) return to normal, and reimbursement loses the COVID-era subsidies.