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Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcers

A pressure ulcer, sometimes called a bedsore, is an injury to the skin or underlying tissue, caused by pressure, friction and moisture. These ulcers often occur when patients have limited mobility and can't change positions in bed on their own.

When pressure ulcers occur, they must be treated quickly or they can damage the skin and muscles, slow recovery, and cause pain, infection and other problems.

Why are hospital patients at risk for pressure ulcers?

Patients are at risk for pressure ulcers when they can't move easily, and if they have insufficient nutrients or liquids, decreased circulation or fragile skin, change in bowel or bladder function, and changes in cognitive function.

During hospitalization, patients also may have a variety of tubes, drains and other health care equipment that can cause pressure ulcers.

What does UCSF Medical Center do to prevent hospital-acquired pressure ulcers?

All patient-care providers are trained in pressure ulcer prevention. Many techniques are used to prevent pressure ulcers such as providing good skin care, regularly assisting patients to change positions in bed, and using pressure-reducing cushions, mattresses and other devices.

Since 2009, UCSF Medical Center has reduced the number of hospital acquired pressure ulcers by more than 50 percent and continues to work towards preventing them.

How does UCSF measure hospital-acquired pressure ulcer rates?

At UCSF, we conduct quarterly pressure ulcer prevalence study days. On these days, every patient in the hospital is examined for evidence of a pressure ulcer. The total number of pressure ulcers counted is divided by the total number of patients examined to obtain a percentage of patients with pressure ulcers.

We have reduced the rate of hospital acquired pressure ulcers among adult and pediatric patients by more than 75 percent from 4.98 percent in the fiscal year 2008 to 1.20 percent in the fiscal year 2013.

Chart for pressure ulcers


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