Ask the expert: Preventing pressure ulcers

Nurse Leader Insider, April 26, 2010

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This week, Karen S. Clay, RN, BSN, CWCN, discusses pressure ulcers and how to prevent them.

Q: My unit has been having difficulty deciding which prevention method to use for pressure ulcers. What are some effective ways I can consider when presenting the methods to leadership?

A: To create an effective program for pressure ulcer prevention, first conduct a risk assessment to identify risk factors, and then focus on your prevention program on minimizing their negative effects. When addressing pressure ulcers as a risk-management problem, prevention is the number one solution. It alleviates needless patient suffering, unnecessary healthcare costs, and associated litigation. This focus will include management of pressure, friction, shear, moisture, and any other individual factors.

When deciding which prevention method is best for your facility, here are a few things to consider:

Positioning: Frequent positioning of the patient can help prevent capillary occlusion, which leads to tissue ischemia and pressure ulcers.

Contractures: Contractures, which cause shortened and flexed positions of the affected area, develop in predictable patterns, so splinting, range-of-motion exercises, and proper positioning can help prevent their occurrence.

Repositioning clocks: Some hospitals use repositioning clocks to monitor repositioning schedules. The basic concept is that a clock placed at the bedside prescribes a particular position at a specific time.

To read more on how ways to prevent pressure ulcers, click here.

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