Pressure Ulcers (Bed Sores) Prevalence

Pressure ulcers are also called bed sores or decubitus ulcers. They can occur in patients who lie in bed or sit in chairs for long periods without moving.

Patients who aren’t eating well, have problems with skin wetness (such as with loss of bowel or bladder control) or don’t feel pain from pressure, are also at risk.  Pressure, especially over a bone, can block blood flow. This can damage the skin as well as the tissue and muscle under the skin.

Pressure ulcers can lead to pain, loss of function, infection and longer hospital stays.

Patient Ulcer Prevalence

Pressure Ulcers by ICU

Patient Ulcers by ICU

Nurses check skin condition and identify patients at risk for pressure ulcers. They also take steps, along with other caregivers, to prevent and treat pressure ulcers.

These steps include:

  • Employ nurses who specialize in skin and wound care
  • Use evidence-based guidelines to prevent and treat pressure ulcers
  • Check each patient’s skin on admission, before and after surgery and then each following day
  • Check each patient’s pressure ulcer risk on admission, before and after surgery and then each following day
  • Plan and provide skin care based on each patient’s skin condition and risk factors
  • Review medical records to make sure skin care meets “best practice” standards
  • Use specially designed “pressure redistribution” mattresses on all beds and stretchers
  • Teach nurses the best ways to prevent and treat pressure ulcers
  • Lead groups of staff to find and use the best ways to protect the skin of high-risk patients

How are we doing?

BWH’s overall pressure ulcer prevalence rate in our Adult Step-Down Unit is lower than the average for hospitals of similar size, but it is higher in other units. Our nurses are working hard to reduce this rate.

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