Preventing Pressure Ulcers

In a nutshell: A pressure ulcer is a localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear. Pressure ulcers can range in severity from patches of discoloured skin to open wounds that expose the underlying bone or muscle. 

Why is reducing pressure ulcers important?

  • 95% of pressure ulcers are preventable 
  • There are an estimated 180,000 newly acquired pressure ulcers developing each year in the NHS (NHS Safety Thermometer 2012)
  • They cause patients long term pain and distress
  • They can mean longer stays in hospital
  • Treating pressure ulcers costs the NHS more than £1.4 – 2.1Billion per year. (Oxford Journals)
  • Giving clear information on what to look for helps patients and carers avoid pressure ulcers
  • Simple steps prevent pressure ulcers (SSKIN

What can be done?

There is a strong evidence base on how to prevent pressure ulcers from developing. It is widely agreed that avoidable pressure ulcers are a key indicator of the quality of nursing care.

There is a wealth of resources available to front line teams for example the 'Stop the Pressure' campaign launched by NHS Midlands and East as part of their ambition to make life better for patients. 

The SSKIN Care Bundle has been widely adopted and involves:

  • Surface: make sure your patients have the right support
  • Skin inspection: early inspection means early detection. Show patients & carers what to look for
  • Keep your patients moving
  • Incontinence/moisture: your patients need to be clean and dry
  • Nutrition/hydration: help patients have the right diet and plenty of fluids

At the Improvement Academy we have been testing using Safety Huddles with teams focussing on Pressure ulcers as their key harm, we have been able to demonstrate measurable improvement in both hospital wards and for community nursing teams.



Patient Safety Collaborative

The Patient Safety collaborative can help you to improve the safety of your patients by applying latest evidence based tools for improvement.