Pressure Ulcers

Holly Hovan's picture

By Holly Hovan, MSN, GERO-BC, APRN, CWOCN-AP

Pressure injuries (PIs) typically are the result of unrelieved pressure, shear, or force. In an inpatient or hospital setting, interventions are put into place to prevent pressure injuries based on evidence and patient risk. However, PIs still develop in some patients despite interventions. Experts agree that most PIs are in fact avoidable; however, some patients may experience unavoidable skin breakdown at end of life (EoL).¹ Kennedy terminal ulcers (KTUs), skin changes at life’s end (SCALE), and Trombley-Brennan terminal tissue injuries (TB-TTIs) are some of the common terms used to describe unavoidable skin changes at EoL.¹

Heidi Cross's picture

By Heidi Cross, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, CWON

As detailed in my last few blogs, nutrition plays a huge role in risk for skin breakdown as well as healing of wounds. Just about ALL wound litigation involves nutrition in one way or another, be it diabetes control (or lack thereof) or weight loss, which occurs often in patients with dementia and toward end of life, or general malnutrition.

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By WoundSource Editors

Pressure injuries are common among patients who experience extended exposure to pressure on a bony prominence or shear to areas of poor turgor, two factors that lead to constriction of a patient’s blood supply to the exposed area. A patient who is bedridden or has certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, is more likely to develop a pressure injury. When mechanical force is imposed on the skin, it can result in poor blood flow and damage to the bone-muscle interface, thus making tissue sensitive and painful. For patients with limited mobility, this can be especially frustrating because they may not be able to adjust positions or medical equipment. If pressure injuries are left untreated or unnoticed, they can also become infected and even enter muscle and bone. Risk assessment tools are available to assess pressure injury risk and can work in tandem with practice standardization, thereby leading to effective treatment plans for practitioners and patients.

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Ivy Razmus's picture

by Ivy Razmus, RN, PhD, CWOCN

Neonatal patients have unique skin properties compared with older patient populations. However, there is little evidence reported for neonates who receive pressure injury (PI) prevention interventions and the related occurrence of PIs compared with adults. The use of a pressure redistribution surface is intended to decrease pressure and thereby reduce PIs. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement guidelines recommend a support surface that meets the patient’s need for pressure redistribution based on the level of immobility and inactivity to reduce shear and change microclimate; additional factors for type of surface include size and weight of the patient and whether there are existing PIs. Consequently, knowledge about selection and use of pressure redistribution surfaces for neonatal patients is needed.

WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Erythema: A result of injury or irritation that causes dilation of blood capillaries and manifests as patchy reddening of the skin. Occurs after a patient/resident is exposed to unrelieved pressure for 2 hours. It can be identified as a deep, localized redness; can also be blue or purple.

Hyperemia: The condition of having excess blood in vessels that supply an organ or area of the body. Occurs after patient/resident is exposed to 30 minutes of unrelieved pressure. It can be identified as a localized, non-blanchable redness.

Perfusion: The passage of blood through arteries and capillaries into tissues or organs. When insufficient, there is an increased chance that the patient may have complications.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Here’s a question for you: How long does it take for a pressure injury (PI) to form? Do you think it happens in 30 minutes? 2 hours? 8 hours? The answer is actually all of the above. The time it takes for a PI to develop depends on a number of different factors, which we will discuss here.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Do you remember that cartoon from the 1960s (and later reproduced in the 1980s), The Jetsons? It was about a futuristic family that had all kinds of amazing robot helpers and automatic appliances. Rosie the Robot was the wonderbot that would whisk about the house, frantically preforming housekeeping duties, monitoring the security of the home, and generally making sure that everything was online and functioning. Do you ever feel like this as a clinician?

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

In the last 2 years, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities have seen unprecedented surges in admissions attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world. Just in the United States, we saw a high of 116,243 weekly hospital admissions in mid-January of 2021. This dropped to a low of 13, 424 in mid-June of 2021 and then bumped up again to 86,871 in August of 2021.1 With this fluctuation of numbers, along with staffing shortages and burnout, wound care professionals have seen significant overcrowding in many hospitals and facilities.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

A nurse recently shared some of her experiences as a charge nurse in a skilled facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked evenings (3-11:30 pm) at a local facility and was overwhelmed by the high number of patients she was responsible for. She typically worked on a 26-bed floor with just one nurse assistant for the shift. She later transferred to the night shift, where she was the only person on a 16-bed unit for the 8 hours. When asked how she was able to reposition patients as frequently as was recommended, the nurse said that she did “the best I could.” She is, unfortunately, not alone.

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Pressure injuries impact quality of life. Tissue destruction in pressure injuries occurs when capillaries supplying the skin structure are compressed for a prolonged time, usually occurring between a bony prominence and a surface. Education and prevention are essential in reducing the prevalence of pressure injuries.

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