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 have decreased circulation or fragile skin. Changes in cognitive or bowel and bladder function, along with insufficient intake of nutrients and liqids, can also contribute to the development of pressure ulcers.

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.

How does UCSF Medical Center measure hospital-acquired pressure ulcer rates?

At UCSF Medical Center, 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 number of patients with hospital-acquired pressure ulcers is divided by the total number of patients examined on the study day to obtain a percentage of patients with hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. UCSF submits prevalence study data to the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes and to the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators to determine how we compare to other hospitals in California and the nation.

Since fiscal year 2012, UCSF Medical Center has reduced the annual prevalence rate of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers among adult patients by 25 percent.

Chart for pressure ulcers
Chart for pressure ulcers
Related Information

Contact Us

If you have any questions or comments about our performance, contact Patient Safety and Quality:

  • UCSF Medical Center
    (415) 353-4989
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
    (415) 502-9859

Other Resources

For help finding a doctor or other assistance, contact our Referral Service at (888) 689-UCSF or (888) 689-8273.

Have a question? Send us an email.