The number of hospital patients with bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, skyrocketed by 63% in a 10-year period, according to a new report. Cases rose to 455,000 in 2003 from 280,000 in 1993.

Also, Medicaid and Medicare paid an average of $39,100 for patients with bedsores in 2003, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported this week. Hospital charges for stays involving the treatment of pressure ulcers averaged $37,800. The average bill to the uninsured was $25,600.

Nursing homes consistently struggle to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers, which can be devastating medically and financially if left untreated.

Patients aged 65 and older accounted for 72% of all hospitalizations during which pressure ulcers were noted. About 19% of such stays were for patients aged 45 to 64. On average, patients admitted to hospitals primarily for treatment of pressure sores stayed nearly 13 days, the AHRQ said.

The report, Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Sores, HCU Statistical Brief #3, is available at