A pressure ulcer, previously called a bed sore or decubitus ulcer, is a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure or pressure in combination with shear and/or friction. Pressure ulcers are painful, costly, and often preventable complications that threaten many individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and home care. Pressure ulcers can increase nursing time up to 50% and are very costly in time and resources. Every year, pressure ulcers affect more than one million acute care and nursing home patients. Most pressure ulcers are preventable. Preventing pressure ulcers entails to two major steps: first, identifying patients at risk; and second, reliably implementing prevention strategies for all patients who are identified as being at risk.
This continuing education activity will provide health care workers with an overview of the etiology of pressure ulcers, including an examination of patient risk factors and pressure ulcer staging classifications. Preventive strategies will be presented, including a review of the various types of support surfaces that help prevent the occurrences of pressure ulcers and help to ensure positive patient outcomes. Guidelines for treatments of pressure ulcers also will be described.