In spite of progress in technology the occurrence of pressure ulcers remains unacceptably high. Using supporting surfaces, repositioning patients, moisturizing a patient’s skin, and optimizing a patient’s nutritional status are considered appropriate strategies to prevent pressure ulcers. According to the European Pressure Advisory Panel, “protein and calorie supplementation, along with the use of arginine, vitamins and trace elements with antioxidant effects appear to have a positive effect on healing.”
Unfortunately, according to the Nutrition Screening Initiative an estimated 40% to 60% of hospitalized older adults, 40% to 85% of nursing home residents, and 20% to 60% of home care patients are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
A study in the April 2007 issue of American Journal of Nursing examines the incidence and high cost of pressure ulcers and presents the results of an implemented protocol to reduce the occurrence of this widespread problem.
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) determined that the incidence of pressure ulcers in acute care settings ranged from 0.4% to 38%. In 1998, “the mean hospital cost per patient for treating a pressure ulcer was $15,760.”
Despite the seriousness of this problem hospitals and other healthcare settings are still plagued with high rates of pressure ulcers. Although guidelines and protocols for pressure ulcer prevention have been developed, “many physicians and nurses report feeling that they lack education regarding pressure ulcer management, suggesting that guidelines are not reaching their intended audience.”
Pressure ulcer treatment protocols have shown a decrease in incidence “by almost 90% in nursing homes and almost 25% in critically ill patients.” Implementation of pressure ulcer management at one large teaching hospital showed a 55% decrease in pressure ulcer incidence after 2 years.
The PUPPI was instituted starting in September of 2004. The staff was provided with information and a number of tools to implement the protocol. As this was a new venture that required change and involved extra work, there was an additional effort to provide education, mentoring, and support.
The first quarter after implementation the pressure ulcer prevalence decreased from a benchmark of 12.65% to 4.11% for all ulcers and from 6.84% to 2.05% for hospital acquired pressure ulcers.
According to the study’s lead author, Kimberly Catania, rates continue to be lower at 5.59% for all pressure ulcers and 2.10% for hospital acquired pressure ulcers in November of 2006, and 8.53% for all pressure ulcers and 3.10% for hospital acquired pressure ulcers in February of 2007.
The study concludes, “While the unit CNSs have championed this process and continue to monitor the program, it has been the nursing staff who have embraced evidence-based nursing practice and brought it to the bedside by adopting the initiative into daily practice. They have become proactive rather than reactive regarding skin care issues. Their improved communication and critical thinking have had a significant impact on patient care and quality and outcomes.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Nursing, April 2007