Pressure Wound injuries (PIs) are damage to the skin caused by sustained pressure compounded by friction, shear, moisture and physiological factors. Incidence of pressure Wound injuries may be more common in long-term care facilities due to a higher concentration of higher-risk individuals. However, almost anybody could be at risk for pressure injuries. PI’s are massive complications in care that can result in infections, loss of function, and even death; never mind the increased costs, potential lawsuits and fines the facility may face.
Hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPrI’s) occur in 5-15% of hospitalized patients with higher concentrations in intensive and critical care units. Patients are regularly screened for increasing risk factors since many HAPrI’s are considered mostly preventable events. Not all pressure injuries are avoidable, as skin is susceptible to failure just like any other organ system.
Individuals at higher risk for developing pressure injuries are people of advanced age, limited mobility, poor circulation, decreased sensation and frequent incontinence. The time and amount of pressure loaded on soft tissue is also a huge contributing factor. A high load could cause damage in a short period of time but a lighter load over an extended period is equally as problematic.
Prevention, early detection and changes in treatment plans are an essential part in keeping pressure injuries from occurring or progressing to disastrous consequences. Physical turning and body positioning frequencies may need to be adjusted. The use of technology like hover mats and limiting the time that people sit up in bed with the head of the bed inclined greater than 30 degrees will help prevent shearing forces on fragile bottoms. Utilizing services like physical and occupational therapy to improve functional mobility status should be encouraged for those at higher risk for pressure injury breakdown.