Monday, 26 September 2016
Pressure Sores (Article 1) - Introduction
Avoidable pressure ulcers are a key indicator of the quality of nursing care. Preventing them happening will improve all care for vulnerable patients.
Pressure ulcers are an injury that breaks down the skin and underlying tissue. They are caused when an area of skin is placed under pressure.
Pressure ulcers can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle.
How pressure ulcers develop
Pressure ulcers can develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time. They can also occur when less pressure is applied over a longer period of time.
The extra pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the skin. Without a blood supply, the affected skin becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients, and begins to break down, leading to an ulcer forming.
Pressure ulcers tend to affect people with health conditions that make it difficult to move, especially those confined to lying in a bed or sitting for prolonged periods of time.
Conditions that affect the flow of blood through the body, such as type 2 diabetes, can also make a person more vulnerable to pressure ulcers.
Who is affected?
It's estimated that just under half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure ulcer in any given year. This is usually people with an underlying health condition – for example, around 1 in 20 people who are admitted to hospital with a sudden illness will develop a pressure ulcer.
People over 70 years old are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcers, as they are more likely to have mobility problems and ageing skin.