New Protocol At CDH Yields Reductions In Pressure Ulcers

NORTHAMPTON— An open wound is not a pretty sight. For hospitalized patients, open wounds can lead to infection, amputation and even death.

Thanks to a new protocol, Cooley Dickinson Hospital caregivers have prevented stage two skin irritations, commonly called pressure ulcers, for the past year and recently bettered the international pressure ulcer average usually seen in acute care hospitals.

“This is a quality of care indicator because almost all pressure ulcers are avoidable,” says Michele Craig, wound and ostomy nurse and chair of the CDH Wound and Skin Committee.

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel defines a pressure ulcer as a partial thickness skin loss involving the epidermis, the dermis or both including a blister or an abrasion. A pressure ulcer is as an area of skin that breaks down when a person stays in one position for too long without shifting their weight. Factors that can contribute to a pressure ulcer include a person’s age or the condition of their skin and are typically found near bones close to the skin such as the heels, elbows, hips, tailbone and hips.

In December 2004, Cooley Dickinson Hospital instituted a team approach to preventing facility-acquired pressure ulcers. A survey conducted in December 2005 showed a 0{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} prevalence of Stage 2 and greater pressure ulcers, meaning none of the Cooley Dickinson patients had such open wounds from pressure ulcers.

According to the Hill-Rom 2005 International Pressure Ulcer Prevalence for Acute Care Facilities, there is an average 3.9{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} pressure ulcer prevalence in acute care facilities located internationally.

As part of CDH’s commitment to quality patient care, staff conduct frequent pressure ulcer surveys and check the skin of all inpatients except for maternity and psychiatric patients under age 65, looking for stage 2 or greater pressure ulcers.

Studies suggest that more than 60,000 people die each year from complications related to pressure ulcers. The added cost to our health care system is estimated at $5 to 8 billion annually.