AuthorsTanja Schub, BS

Cinahl Information Systems, Glendale, CA

Eliza Schub, RN, BSNCinahl Information Systems, Glendale, CA

ReviewersEva Beliveau, RN, MSN, CNE

Professor of Nursing, Northern EssexCommunity College

Gina DeVesty, BSN, MLSCinahl Information Systems, Glendale, CA

Nursing Executive Practice CouncilGlendale Adventist Medical Center,

Glendale, CA

EditorDiane Hanson, MM, BSN, RN, FNAP

August 13, 2021

Published by Cinahl Information Systems, a division of EBSCO Information Services. Copyright©2021, Cinahl Information Systems. All rightsreserved. No part of this may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or byany information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Cinahl Information Systems accepts no liability for adviceor information given herein or errors/omissions in the text. It is merely intended as a general informational overview of the subject for the healthcareprofessional. Cinahl Information Systems, 1509 Wilson Terrace, Glendale, CA 91206

Pressure Injuries: Prevention Strategies

What We Know› Pressure injuries (PIs ; Figure 1 )—referred to as “pressure ulcers” until the change in

terminology by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP; 2016) and alsoreferred to as decubitus ulcers, pressure sores, or bedsores—are localized, oftentimespainful, areas of damaged skin and/or underlying soft tissue resulting from prolonged orintense pressure or a combination of pressure and shear. The skin at the site of a PI can beintact or the injury can appear as an open ulcer. PIs usually occur over bony prominencesor in areas where medical or other devices or surfaces exert prolonged pressure againstthe skin. Factors that can potentiate the injurious effects of pressure and shear includeprolonged skin moisture, poor nutrition, and poor perfusion.(11) (For details, see QuickLesson About … Pressure Injuries: an Overview )

Figure 1: Graphic illustrating four of the eight pressure injury classificationsestablished by the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP).

Additional categories include Unstageable, Deep Tissue, MedicalDevice Related, and Mucosal Membrane Pressure Injury. Copyright©

Nanoxyde, 2008. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic License

• Of note, the majority of current literature does not yet reflect the NPUAP’s recentchange in terminology; it is expected that the termpressure injury will gradually replacepressure ulcer anduse of Arabic numerals to identify PIs stagesinstead of Romannumeral,as acknowledgement of the change becomes widespread(1)

–The European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) continues to support theguidelines issued in 2014 and has not yet adopted the new terminology and pressureulcer classification system propounded by NPUAP in April 2016(8)

• PI risk factors include older age, impaired mobility, physical inactivity, being subjectto friction and shear, moisture, low body mass index (BMI) and/or poor nutritionalstatus (especially low protein intake), dehydration, incontinence, sensory loss, cognitiveimpairment, certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes mellitus, [DM] peripheral vascular

disease [PVD], stroke, and spinal cord injury [SCI]), drugs that affect wound healing(e.g., corticosteroids), hip fracture, smoking, and need for assisted ventilation(4,5,6,10,14)

• PIs are associated with a decrease in quality of life and a 1-yearmortality rate that approaches40%(14)

• Up to 95% of PIs are thought to be preventable(15)

–As of 2008, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States no longer reimburses facilities fortreatment of facility-acquired Stage 3 and 4 PIs(2)

› Standard prevention strategies include risk assessment using standardized PI risk assessment tools (e.g., Braden scale), skincare, frequently redistributing pressure (particularly over bony prominences) by frequent repositioning, maintaining goodhygiene, minimizing moisture (especially that caused by incontinence), management of incontinence by scheduled toiletingplans, use of mattresses and/or cushions to reduce/relieve pressure, preventing skin damage through use of topical agents(e.g., creams, ointments) or dressings, avoiding over-sedation, and optimizing nutrition(4,5,6,9,10,14,15)

• PI risk assessment scales have low to modest predictive ability and Cochrane reviewers found no reliable evidencedemonstrating that the use of structured risk assessment tools reduces the incidence of PIs(13)

• Although the value of regular patient repositioning in reducing the risk of developing PIs has been confirmed, and clinicalpractice guidelines commonly recommend patient repositioning every 2 hours, the optimal frequency for repositioning hasnot been established in clinical trials(6)

• Cochrane reviewers analyzed 59 randomized trials and found evidence that(9)

–constant low-pressure support surfaces reduce the incidence of PIs compared to standard foam mattresses–sheepskin mattress overlays reduce the incidence of PIs–pressure-relieving overlays on the operating table reduce the incidence of PIs–alternating pressure mattresses reduce the incidence of PIs compared to standard foam mattresses–alternating pressure mattresses and constant low-pressuresupport surfaces have similar efficacy for reduction of PIs–alternating pressure mattresses and alternating pressure overlays have similar efficacy for reduction of PIs–addition of a Jay Gel cushion to foam wheelchair cushions reduces PI risk

• Cochrane reviewers of256 recent studies for the prevention and treatment of PI report the focus on repositioning, nutrition,and support surfaces continue to be major recommendations(13)

• Although malnutrition is associated with increased PI risk, there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use ofvitamin C and zinc supplementation to reduce PI risk(6)

• Authors of a recent systematic review found no evidence supporting the use of any behavioral or educational interventionsfor PI prevention in adults with SCI(3)

–Researchers in South Korea randomized 47 patients with SCI to a self-efficacy enhancement program or a control group.Patients in the intervention group had greater improvements in self-care knowledge, self-efficacy, and self-carebehaviorsfor PI prevention. However, there was no significant difference in incidence of PIs between the groups(7)

› The prevalence of PIs in U.S. facilities has declined over the last decade(12)

• Researchers who conducted the International Pressure Ulcer Prevalence Survey, a 10-year study of 918,621 inpatientsin the U.S., observed that the overall prevalence of PIs declined from 13.5% in 2006 to 9.3% in 2015. The prevalence offacility-acquired PIs declined from 6.2% in 2006 to 3.1–3.4% in 2013–2015(12)

What We Can Do› Learn more about PI prevention so you can accurately assess your patients’ personal characteristics and health education

needs; share this knowledge with your colleagues(5)

› Collaborate with an interdisciplinary healthcare team at your facility to develop a PI prevention plan to reduce the risk for PIdevelopment

› Assess PI risk and skin condition(6,14)

• On admission, assess for skin compromise, especially at bony prominences; signs of recent trauma; effects of friction orshear; immobility and/or functional incapacity; factors that influence healing (e.g., nutritional status); and incontinence.Ask about medical history (including previous treatments or surgeries); and measure body weight(6)

• Reassess risk daily in acute care settings, at each home care visit, and weekly in long-term care settings

–Use a valid risk assessment scale (e.g., Braden Scale for Predicting PI Risk; the most widely used risk assessment toolaccording to facility protocol(6,14)

– Risk assessment tools permit routine organized assessment of the skin and factors related to skin integrity› Optimize nutrition and hydration(6)

• Request referral to a registered dietitian for patient evaluation and recommendation of specific amounts of proteins,calories, fluids, electrolytes, and micronutrients–Provide liquid nutritional supplements, enteral nutrition, or total parenteral nutrition, as prescribed

• Perform ongoing nutritional assessment–Use of a standardized nutrition assessment tool, such as the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), can assist in

determining the extent of malnutrition• Assess body composition (height and weight), and for alteration in laboratory values (e.g., serum albumin, prealbumin, and

Hgb), which can indicate malnutrition› Manage moisture and maintain skin integrity—cleanse and dry skin after each incontinent event; use noncytotoxic cleansers

to avoid drying or irritating skin; do not rub the skin(14)

• For incontinent patients, use special supplies (e.g., topical skin barriers, a pouching system, or indwelling catheters) andfrequently inspect skin

• For patients with dry skin, use moisturizer frequently because dry skin is more susceptible to breakdown› Minimize pressure, friction, and shear(6,14)

• Use heel protective devices (Figure 2) for patients at high-risk for PIs• Provide a pressure-redistributing support surface instead of a standard mattress, per clinician orders or facility protocol

(Figure 3)

Figure 2: The convoluted foam of the heel protector increases cushioning, promotes air circulation, anddissipates heat for protection against skin breakdown. Copyright ©2015, EBSCO Information Services

Figure 3: Example of continuous pressure air-suspension mattress overlay that is utilized toreduce the risk for pressure injury development. Copyright© 2014, EBSCO Information Services

• Use lift sheets, overhead trapeze bars, and hoists; do not drag or pull the patient• Reposition the patient frequently

–Turn the patient every 1–2 hours using a hoist, trapeze, or lift sheet–Use pressure-redistributing devices (e.g., pillows, wedges) to reduce pressure on bony prominences; frequently evaluate

their effectiveness- Avoid use of donut-type ring cushions as support devices because they can increase the size of the PI by causing further

ischemia rather than reducing risk for PI development–Do not massage bony prominences (6)

› Educate patient and family about PI etiology, risk factors, and prevention strategies (e.g., good nutrition, regular inspectionof skin, frequent repositioning), and when to seek medical attention

Coding MatrixReferences are rated using the following codes, listed in order of strength:

M Published meta-analysis

SR Published systematic or integrative literature review

RCT Published research (randomized controlled trial)

R Published research (not randomized controlled trial)

C Case histories, case studies

G Published guidelines

RV Published review of the literature

RU Published research utilization report

QI Published quality improvement report

L Legislation

PGR Published government report

PFR Published funded report

PP Policies, procedures, protocols

X Practice exemplars, stories, opinions

GI General or background information/texts/reports

U Unpublished research, reviews, poster presentations orother such materials

CP Conference proceedings, abstracts, presentation

References1. Black, J.M., Goldberg, M., McNichol, L., & Moore, L. (2016). Revised national pressure ulcer advisory panel pressure injury staging system: Revised pressure injury staging

system. Journal of wound, ostomy, and continence nursing, 43(6), 585-597. doi:10.1097/WON.0000000000000281 (G)

2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2020, February 11). Hospital-acquired conditions. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from (GI)

3. Cogan, A. M., Blanchard, J., Garber, S. L., Vigen, C., Carlson, M., & Clark, F. A. (2017). Systematic review of behavioral and educational interventions to prevent pressureulcers in adults with spinal cord injury. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(7), 871-880. doi:10.1177/0269215516660855 (SR)

4. Doh, G., & Heo, C.Y. (2021). Pathogenesis and prevention of pressure ulcer. Journal of the Korean Medical Association, 64(1), 16-25. doi:10.5124/jkma.2021.64.1.16 (RV)

5. Dunk, A. M., & Carville, K. (2016). The international clinical practice guidelines for prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers/injuries. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(2),243-244. doi:10.1111/jan.12614 (G)

6. European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, & Pan Pacific Pressure InjuryAlliance. (2016). Prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers: Quick reference guide. Retrieved June 15, 2021, from (G)

7. Kim, J. Y., & Cho, E. (2017). Evaluation of a self-efficacy enhancement program to prevent pressure ulcers in patients with a spinal cord injury. Japan Journal of NursingScience, 14(1), 76-86. doi:10.1111/jjns.12136 (RCT)

8. Markova, A. (2019). Pressure ulcer terminology. European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. Retrieved June 15, 2021, from (GI)

9. McInnes, E., Jammali-Blasi, A., Bell-Syer, S. E., Dumville, J. C., Middleton, V., & Cullum, N. (2015). Support surfaces for pressure ulcer prevention. Cochrane Database ofSystematic Reviews, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD001735. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001735.pub5 (M)

10. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). (2015). Pressure ulcers. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from (G)

11. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. (2016, April 13). National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) announces a changein terminology from pressure ulcer to pressure injury and updates the stages of pressure injury. Retrieved June 15, 2021, from

12. VanGilder, C., Lachenbruch, C., Algrim-Boyle, C., & Meyer, S. (2017). The International Pressure Ulcer Prevalence™ Survey: 2006-2015: A 10-year pressure injury prevalenceand demographic trend analysis by care setting. Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing, 44(1), 20-28. doi:10.1097/WON.0000000000000292 (R)

13. Walker, R.M., Gillespie, B.M., Mcinnes, E., Moore, Z., Eskes, A.M., Patton, D., & Chaboyer, W. (2020). Prevention and treatment of pressure injuries: A meta-sythesis ofCochrane Reviews. Journal of Tissue Viability, 29(4), 227-243. doi:10.1016/j.jtv.2020.05.004 (M)

14. Welesko, M.-B., & Javier, N. M. (2018). Pressure injury. In F. F. Ferri (Ed.), 2018 Ferri's clinical advisor: 5 books in 1 (pp. 1056-1058). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. (GI)

15. Zack, A. M. (2018). Pressure ulcer. In F. J. Domino (Ed.), The 5-minute clinical consult 2018 (26th ed., pp. 808-809). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer. (GI)

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