Costly, but easily preventable
- By: Sathiji Nageshwaran, Uttara Ayanthi Gunasekera, Perbinder Grewal
Pressure ulcers, also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, include any localised injury to the skin or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure or pressure in combination with shear.1 They are a common problem not only in hospitals in the United Kingdom, with a reported prevalence of 8%, but also in countries such as the United States, where figures can reach up to 18% in general acute care and 28% in long term care.23
With the nationwide push towards greater patient safety, pressure ulcer prevention should be part of every healthcare professional’s job description. Increased vigilance at the frontline, through awareness among medical students and junior doctors, is vital in catching ulcers early and treating them promptly.
Pressure ulcers can form in any part of the body (box 1), and their prevention is key to maintaining patient safety on the wards. Facial pressure