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The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, severity, location, aetiology, treatment and healing of medical device-related pressure ulcers (PUs) in intensive care patients for up to 7 days. A prospective repeated measures study design was used. Patients in six intensive care units of two major medical centres, one each in Australia and the USA, were screened 1 day per month for 6 months. Those with device-related ulcers were followed daily for up to 7 days. The outcome measures were device-related ulcer prevalence, pain, infection, treatment and healing. Fifteen of 483 patients had device-related ulcers and 9 of 15 with 11 ulcers were followed beyond screening. Their mean age was 60·5 years, and most were men, overweight and at increased risk of PU. Endotracheal (ET) and nasogastric (NG) tubes were the cause of most device-related ulcers. Repositioning was the most frequent treatment. Four of 11 ulcers healed within the 7-day observation period. In conclusion, device-related ulcer prevalence was 3·1%, similar to that reported in the limited literature available, indicating an ongoing problem. Systematic assessment and repositioning of devices are the mainstays of care. We recommend continued prevalence determination and that nurses remain vigilant to prevent device-related ulcers, especially in patients with NG and ET tubes.