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Pressure Ulcer Risk Assessment and Prevention Program

According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, a pressure ulcer is defined as 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:

  • Were reported as the cause of approximately 10,000 deaths annually (1990 to 2001)
  • Accounted for 503,300 hospital stays in 2006, a 78.9 percent increase from 1993
  • Are present in 15 percent of patients in acute care facilities
  • Cost as much as $70,000 for management of a single full-thickness pressure ulcer
  • Burden the U.S. health care system with an estimated $11 billion per year for treatment of 2.5 million patients in acute-care facilities
  • Are avoidable in some, but not all cases

Pressure ulcers, also called decubitus ulcers, pressure sores and bedsores, cause considerable harm to patients, hindering functional recovery, frequently causing pain and the development of serious, occasionally fatal infections. Because muscle and subcutaneous tissue are more prone to pressure injury than skin, pressure ulcers are often worse than they appear.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement cites multiple factors that place patients at risk for the development of pressure ulcers:

  • Advanced age
  • Immobility
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Sensory deficiency
  • Device-related pressure
  • Multiple co-morbidities
  • Circulatory abnormalities
  • Dehydration
  • Incontinence

At Naval Medical Center Portsmouth physicians, nurses, Registered Dieticians, Physical Therapists and Wound Care specialists collaborate to identify patients at risk and to treat those admitted with existing pressure ulcers. Nurses assess patients each shift and employ evidence-based clinical practices to minimize the chance of developing pressure ulcers. For those patients with pressure ulcers we utilize special pressure reducing beds and a variety of skin treatments.

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth views pressure ulcers as “never events,” or something that should never occur in our facility. For those patients who arrive with pressure ulcers we use a team approach to aggressively treat them.

Updated 3 April 2023
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