As the UK population ages and greater numbers of people are living with long term conditions, increasing numbers of people are at risk of developing pressure ulcers.1 Pressure ulcers can cause pain and suffering and require intensive community input at home. This article examines the reasons why pressure sores develop, explains how they are graded and offers information on prevention and treatment.
‘A pressure ulcer is localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear. A number of contributing or confounding factors are also associated with pressure ulcers – the significance of these factors is yet to be elucidated’2
There are no national audits of pressure ulcer prevalence in the UK.3 Estimates vary from 153 000 to 410 000 pressure ulcers developing annually. 4,5 NHS Safety Thermometer data from 2014–2015 indicates that 2000 pressure ulcers develop every month in England in NHS settings.6 This data excludes pressure ulcers in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as well as pressure ulcers that develop in care homes.