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Do no harm: reducing pressure ulcers in a care home setting

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As described by the EuropeanPressure ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP), a pressure ulcer is 'a localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a boney prominence, as a result of pressure or pressure in combination with shear.'1 The forces of pressure are further exacerbated by moisture and other factors relating to the individual's physical condition, such as poor nutritional status, reduced mobility and underlying medical conditions.2,3

The estimated cost to the NHS of treating pressure ulcers and related conditions is up to £4bn a year, with the most severe cases ranging from £11,000 to £40,000 per person.4

In recent years the emphasis on preventative healthcare, efficiency and patient care has moved the subject of pressure ulcers up political agendas.5 Protecting patients from pressure damage is a fundamental requirement of nursing and other professions allied to healthcare.6 In 2010 the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) adopted a 'zero tolerance' approach to pressure ulcers advising that all NHS organisations in England and Wales should work towards this goal.7,8

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