Preventing Pressure Ulcers – Saving More Than Just Money

January 25, 2018

pressure ulcers lets take the pressure off

Pressure Ulcers – An Unnecessary Problem for Patients

Pressure ulcers can be defined as a localised injury that occurs to either the skin or the underlying tissue, often above a bony prominence that happens due to pressure or sheer. Ulcers create tremendous pain and discomfort. They often result in extremely serious infections, so for patients who suffer from one – pressure ulcers are a very serious issue.

In the United Kingdom the National Health Service (NHS) recently reported that more 700,000 people suffer from pressure ulcers across all the various care settings, including patients who are in their own homes. From the 700,000 roughly 186,000 patients develop a pressure ulcer during their stay in hospital every year.

Each pressure ulcer adds extra care costs exceeding £4,000 – with a combined total cost of roughly £3.8 million each and every year for the National Health Service. The NHS say that statistically the most at risk patients in the U.K. are over 75 years of age.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland, where Trulife are headquarted, estimates that the cost of treating one patient with a Grade IV pressure injury at over €120,000. It is estimated that nearly €250 million is spent each year treating patients with pressure ulcers.

In the United States similar figures are seen. According the Department of Health and Human Services the number of patients in the U.S. that develop pressure related injures is greater than 2.5million every year. The American College of Physicians (ACP) say that in the U.S. occurrence of injuries ranges from 0% – 17% in home care setups, 0.4% – 38% in acute care hospitals and 2% – 24% in nursing care facilities.

Pressure ulcers are desperately painful, and in more serious cases can result in severe injury and even death. By far the most shocking statistic of all is that almost 60,000 people die each year as a result of a pressure ulcer.

Whilst ulcers are a significant issue and one that needs to be addressed the positive news is that in the vast majority of cases they are completely preventable. Following the correct risk assessment procedures and prevention guidelines is the first step.

In 1988, Pamela Hibbs presented her hypothesis that 95% of pressure ulcers can be prevented. When this target is met, patients will realise a far better quality of life.

The Stories behind the Statistics

In 2017 a study carried out by the New Zealand Health Quality and Safety Commission was released and several of cases where patients were not evaluated by the right risk assessments and therefore suffered pressure injuries.

The story of one patient ‘John’ is very common….. Unfortunately, he was required to wait almost 40 hours in the accident and emergency department and was not able to move about freely. Later when admitted to the ward no risk assessment was carried out. A thorough assessment was only completed four days afterwards. The nurses on duty noted some reddening of the skin in places, but unfortunately no measures were applied to help the situation from escalating. On the tenth day, after a very significant operation, John was classed with a serious Grade III pressure injury.

A second case highlights the Danny’s experience. Danny suffered a spinal injury and was not able to walk any longer. Several years later he experienced his first pressure injury when travelling on a long-distance flight without the necessary support of a pressure relieving cushion. This lead to a breakdown of his skin and resulted in a very painful pressure ulcer. Since then Danny has experienced similar pressure injuries which take their toll on both his private life and working life.

In both cases the patient’s injuries could have been greatly reduced had a thorough assessment of the individual’s conditions been conducted and the correct measure put in place.

The medical world is taking note of stories like these and it is fantastic to see things moving in the right direction.

What changes Are We Seeing?

Several fantastic awareness campaigns such as Stop Pressure Ulcer Day, organised by National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) and the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP), have done a great job in creating awareness.

Another very significant change is that the medical industry has begun to invest heavily into research and new product design that is making a real difference to people’s lives.

A number of really exciting new products are becoming available that will help medical professionals carry out better assessments of vulnerable patients……

New Tools for Pressure Ulcer Risk Assessment


Purpose T was created by a team of nurses in the United Kingdom. It is based on the most current data available in the field. The nurses have designed a three-step risk assessment process using an innovative colour-coded system that evaluates a patient’s level of risk.

Initial feedback from trials of Purpose-T have been very encouraging and further research is planned.

Learn More about Purpose – T.

SEM Scanner

A fabulous new product coming online is the SEM Scanner. It is an early detection device that has the ability to find possible issues and notify staff. Nurses can then put measures in place and prevent pressure ulcers before they break the through the skin causing harm.

During the trial phase the results were very encouraging and pressure ulcers were reduced to 0% in the wards where the SEM Scanner was being used.

This underlines the fact that with proper procedures in place and the correct pressure care techniques being followed the vast majority of ulcers can be prevented.

Learn More about SEM Scanner.  

Toolkits & Guides for Improving Care

The AHRQ has developed an excellent toolkit that can be used by hospital staff and carers in preventing pressure ulcers. It covers everything from an organisations readiness, to best practices and procedures that help in the prevention of a pressure injury.

Similarly, the Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers Quick Reference Guide by the EPUAP, NPUAP and PPPIA has plenty of extremely helpful information that medics can access.

No Pressure – Changes in Clinical Practice

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement have highlighted several key areas that if introduced could significantly reduce pressure injuries from occurring:

How Can We Eliminate the Occurrence of Pressure Injuries?

Thankfully pressure sores are being viewed as a priority within the industry, but things can still improve further. What can be done??

The benefit of preventing pressure injuries is that it can save billions in treatment costs worldwide each year, but more importantly it can save countless people’s lives.

Learn More

pressue care preventing ulcers

Trulife has developed an innovative Pressurecare Range that greatly reduces the risk of pressure injures by carefully minimising pressure. Please get in touch or download a catalogue if you want to learn more.


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