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The Danger of Kennedy Terminal Ulcers
For patients and their families, the emergence of a decubitus ulcer is painful and stressful. Thankfully, most decubitus ulcers are often noticeable in the earliest stages and are easily treated, with very few passing beyond Stage 2. In fact, many hospitals have special monitoring programs in place to prevent the development of pressure ulcers all together.
However, Kennedy Terminal Ulcers are not so easily prevented or treated. Named after the nurse practitioner who discovered them, Kennedy Terminal Ulcers typically occur in geriatric patients and often transforms from an initial blister directly to a Stage 4 pressure ulcer with just a few hours. Treatment for these ulcers usually focuses on pain relief because, as the name suggests, patients typically do not recover from them. In fact, most patients who develop Kennedy Terminal Ulcers die within 24 hours.
Proper treatment involves stringent turning regimens and wound treatment. Depending on the amount of drainage, caregivers will typically use a hydrocolloid, foam, gel, or calcium alginate if there are high amounts of drainage. Typically, however, these ulcers do not have much drainage. If there is slough (yellow tissue) or necrotic tissue (black tissue) caregivers will move to a debridement method such as an enzymatic debriding agent, autolytic debridement method (thin film, hydrocolloid) or mechanical debridement method (wet to dry).
Although it is unlikely for patients to recover from Kennedy Terminal Ulcers, recovery is sometimes possible if the treatment methods are ideal. Turning patients is the simplest and most effective method for preventing and treating pressure ulcers, yet ensuring that patients are turned in a timely fashion can be difficult in the busy hospital environment. Today, technology such as Dalcon Alert exists that automatically notifies clinicians when it is time to turn patients.