Article Updated:  November 21, 2021

 Diaper Changes in Nursing Homes

How Often Should Nursing Homes Change Diapers

Due to continence issues, many nursing home residents wear diapers.  So the questions arise:

   How often should nursing home residents’ diapers be changed?

   Do inadequate diaper changes cause bed sores?

   Is infrequent diaper changing negligence?

Below, you will learn how diaper changes in a nursing home setting can be evidence of neglect and violations of proper medical standards.

If you have more questions or need help after reading this article, contact me day or night.

Diapers Worn in Nursing Homes

The Need for Nursing Home Diapers

In nursing homes, many individuals will need to wear diapers because of mobility issues and concerns.

Because many who live in a nursing home are not able to get up, stand up, or move around at all, they will have a diaper put on in order to address their bathroom needs.

Not all people who wear diapers in a nursing home are bedridden.  Some simply have mobility issues and cannot express or control when they need to use the bathroom.  Therefore, many actively mobile people also wear diapers in nursing homes.

Those who are bedridden on the other hand, or have cognitive health deterioration that prevents them from being able to control or express any need to use the bathroom, will almost always have to wear diapers at all times.

Who Commonly Wears Diapers in Nursing Homes

Reasons For Diaper Use In Nursing Homes

When an individual is bedridden, be it in a hospital or nursing home the need for diapers increases exponentially with many elderly in hospital care and long-term care needing diapers because of disability or cognitive decline.

Sine this is such a common occurrence, with a large majority of elderly and adults in care needing diapers at some point and time, the question then is, how often should nursing homes change diapers?

The Answer to this can vary on a number of details, but there are some overarching rules that nursing homes should generally be following in order to give their patients the best level of overall care.

Frequency in Changing Diapers

The answer to the question of how often nursing homes should change diapers is, it depends.

Incontinence and Diaper Changes in Nursing Homes

If a person has incontinence then their diaper needs to be changed far more frequently than a person who does not have any such problems. Usually, those with urinary incontinence will need to have their diaper changed at least 5-8 times in a day.

This does not mean that all incontinence is even treated the same.  An individual with bowel incontinence needs to have their diaper changed immediately upon the diaper becoming soiled.

Lifestyle Impact on Diaper Changes

The biggest factor in the need for frequency in changing a diaper will be how healthy and active the lifestyle of the individual wearing diapers is.

A person who can usually get up and go to the bathroom themselves will not need to change their diaper as frequently because most of the time they will not actually use the diaper. This means that a person who has incontinence or bladder leakage can generally not need their diaper changed multiple times in a day.

This frequency changes for a person who is much older, or a person who is more severely incontinent or a person who is bedridden the majority of the day.  These individuals will not be able to control their bladder long enough to get to a bathroom most of the time.

Patient’s Awareness of Bathroom Needs

Additionally, a person with this level of care needed may often not even know that they need to relieve themselves or that they have already relieved themselves.

These individuals will need to have their diapers changed far more frequently and will need to also be monitored carefully as well.

So, How Often Should Nursing Homes Change Diapers?

The answer to this question depends on which class or category of individual you are in a nursing home.

Active Individuals With Urinary Incontinence

The individuals who have bladder concerns and cannot always control or time their needs will have their diapers changed less frequently, usually once every few hours throughout the day.  These are individuals who can usually voice their needs to go to the bathroom, but not all of the time.

Bedridden Individuals

A person who is bedridden needs to have their diaper changed every 2-3 hours when they have urinary incontinence.  However, if an individual who is bedridden soils themselves they need to be changed as soon as possible as this can be harmful for them in the long run.

Residents With Cognitive Decline

Similar to those who are bedridden, a person with cognitive decline needs to have their diaper changed every 2-3 hours for urinary incontinence but ASAP when they have soiled themselves, otherwise major health problems can arise related to their skin.

Neglect In Changing Diapers In Nursing Homes

Inadequate Diaper Changing Equals Neglect

There is often neglect in nursing homes with regards to changing diapers in a timely manner.

Residents who cannot move or have cognitive concerns are often left with soiled or wet diapers for long periods of time which can cause health problems.

Unnecessary suffering is caused when this basic need is neglected that weighs on the emotional and physical well-being of nursing home residents.

This kind of neglect is therefore a form of abuse that many in nursing homes suffer through.

Nurse Training on Proper Diaper Changes

It is not always disregard for a resident that leads to diapers not being changed.  Instead, it can often be the fault of the nursing home itself because of a lack of support and poor training that leads to unclear routines for nursing staff.

Diaper Not Changed Properly In Nursing Home

This lack of training and routine complicates the question of how often a nursing home should change diapers.

This is because even if it is done every 2-3 hours, if it is not done correctly, it is the same as not doing it at all.

When diapers are not changed properly or when they are not changed in the appropriate time intervals, there is inadequate care being given to residents.  Inadequate care is very common in nursing homes and it can lead to serious health complications and even death.

Inadequate Nurse Home Diaper Changes

Inadequate care like not changing diapers properly or frequently enough has a direct impact on health and safety outcomes for nursing home residents.  It is, for certain, one of the things I investigate when I learn an elderly nursing home resident suffered a pressure wound.

Consequences When Diapers Are Not Changed

Complications & consequences come up frequently when a nursing home does not do its job properly for residents.

When a diaper is not changed in the proper manner, many health conditions can arise.  This includes:

   cellulitis

   bed sores

   boils

   rashes

   skin deterioration

These conditions can degrade quality of life and in some cases even shorten life.  They should be monitored closely by nursing, and by family members who want to make sure nurses and nursing homes are doing their jobs.

Nursing Home Diaper Change Malpractice

This is one of those bad nursing home acts for which filing a lawsuit does not make sense.

The only time that changes is if the inadequate diaper changes caused a serious pressure ulcer injury.  If that happened, you need an experienced pressure wound lawyer.

I have investigated and litigated 100+ nursing home pressure wound cases.  In fact, the majority of my nursing home cases involve pressure wounds.

Contact me for a free consult on how I can become your advocate.  My information is at the bottom of this page.

Warmly,

Reza Davani, Esq.
State Bar No.:     1212110211
Federal Bar No.: 30168



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Al-Samarrai, N. R., Uman, G. C., Al-Samarrai, T., & Alessi, C. A. (2007). Introducing a new incontinence management system for nursing home residentsJournal of the American Medical Directors Association8(4), 253–261.

Bitencourt, G. R., Alves, L. D. A. F., & Santana, R. F. (2018). Practice of use of diapers in hospitalized adults and elderly: cross-sectional study. Revista brasileira de enfermagem71, 343-349.

Chang, Y. P., Schneider, J. K., & Sessanna, L. (2011). Decisional conflict among Chinese family caregivers regarding nursing home placement of older adults with dementiaJournal of Aging Studies25(4), 436-444.

Malmedal, W., Ingebrigtsen, O., & Saveman, B. I. (2009). Inadequate care in Norwegian nursing homes–as reported by nursing staff. Scandinavian journal of caring sciences23(2), 231-242.

Svanström, R., Sundler, A. J., Berglund, M., & Westin, L. (2013). Suffering caused by care—elderly patients’ experiences in community care. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being8(1), 20603.

Ho, C. S., Wong, S. Y., Chiu, M. M., & Ho, R. C. (2017). Global prevalence of elder abuse: A metaanalysis and meta-regression. East Asian archives of psychiatry27(2), 43-55.

Prang, I. W., & Jelsness-Jørgensen, L. P. (2014). Should I report? A qualitative study of barriers to incident reporting among nurses working in nursing homesGeriatric Nursing35(6), 441-447.

About the Author

This nursing home and medical malpractice article was written by Baltimore, Maryland nursing home attorney Reza Davani, Esquire.  Mr. Davani received his Juris Doctor degree from a Tier 1 law school, the University of Maryland Francs King Carey School of Law.  He received his first license to practice law from the State of Maryland’s Court of Appeals (MD State License No. 1212110211), and just four months later received a federal law license from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland (Federal License No. 30168).

Mr. Davani has been practicing law for over 10 years.  He began practicing law by helping clients as a sanctioned student lawyer before receiving his law license, and second chaired his first jury trial in federal court before even graduating law school.  He is a registered member of the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Association for Justice (AAJ), and was formerly on the MAJ’s Legislative Leader’s Circle.

Mr. Davani has taken over 20 cases to trial in state and federal court, and favorably settled well over 100 cases for injured victims.  He has personally helped his clients recover over $15,000,000 in personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse settlements and verdicts in Maryland and other states.  He is dedicated to fighting for justice, and welcomes the opportunity to help you.

How Often Should Nursing Homes Change Diapers for Elderly


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