Global Stop Pressure Ulcer Day

12 November 2012
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is welcoming the opportunity to support Global Stop Pressure Ulcer Day on 16 November - a global campaign which WDHB pressure ulcer prevention group coordinator Margaret Gosnell says has an important message behind it.
Mrs Gosnell says pressure injuries are a major burden to patients, their carers and society.
“Apart from the terrible discomfort they cause to patients, pressure injuries are an added cost that the health sector has to manage,” Mrs Gosnell says.
“The pain of pressure injuries has been described as similar to digging a screwdriver into one’s flesh,  like sitting in a bath of scalding water or worse than a toothache.
“One of the key areas of work that Wanganui Hospital has been focused on for a long time is reducing the incidence of pressure ulcers among our patients, rest home residents and those being cared for in their own home. It’s an integral part of our excellent Patient Safety and Quality Service. The message we want to spread to the community is - pressure injuries are largely preventable.”
For those who don’t know what a pressure ulcer is, Mrs Gosnell describes it as damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by unrelieved pressure to an area of the body. Also called pressure ulcers or bed sores, they range from mild to minor skin reddening to severe deep wounds.
Pressure ulcers are usually caused by the prolonged pressure that occurs from sitting in a wheelchair or chair or lying in bed in one position for too long. Other factors such a slight rubbing from oxygen tubing may also cause minor damage to the skin.
Pressure ulcers form over boney parts of the body or where parts of the body press on hard surface or against each other. When people are confined to bed, pressure ulcers often form on the lower back, the hips and heels. When confined to chairs and wheelchairs, they often occur on the buttocks.
Mrs Gosnell says the main preventers are:
  • reposition regularly
  • use a pressure relieving mattress or cushion
  • protect the skin from moisture and friction
  • consider high protein oral nutritional supplements
  • educate the patient and family
  • continue to assess risk and evaluate interventions
The WDHB has produced easy to read pamphlets for clinical staff and patients/families to help educate people about pressure ulcers and how to prevent them.
These pamphlets are available from the Centre for Patient Safety and Quality which can be contacted by phoning 06 348 3164. Talking to doctors and nurses is also valuable for those who have concerns about pressure ulcers.