Preventing patient pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcersA pressure ulcer can seriously impact your quality of life and it’s important to understand whether you may be at risk, so you can help prevent a pressure ulcer from developing.

What is a pressure ulcer?

A pressure ulcer is an area of damage to the skin and underlying tissue. The first sign that a pressure ulcer may be forming is usually discoloured skin, which may get progressively worse and eventually lead to an open wound. The most common places for pressure ulcers to occur are over bony prominences (where bones are close to the surface of the skin).

Prevention

One of the best ways of preventing a pressure ulcer is to reduce or relieve pressure on the areas at risk by moving around and changing position as much as possible. If you already have a pressure ulcer, lying or sitting on the ulcer should be avoided as this will make it worse. 

At this hospital if you're assessed as being at moderate or high risk of developing pressure damage due to your current condition and skin health, you’ll be placed on the ‘Turnaround’ project. This involves your nurse coming to you every two hours to prompt or assist you in changing your position, helping you go to the toilet if required and ensuring you have a drink available. 

Changing position every two hours ensures the blood flow to the area under pressure has enough time to return to normal. So even if you’re sitting in the chair you’ll be encouraged to stay there for a maximum of two hours at any one time (sitting in a chair for long periods of time can increase the risk of pressure ulcers developing in the same way that staying in bed can).

You can read more about preventing pressure ulcers in our patient information leaflet.