Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcer Prevention: A Burn Surgeon’s Team Approach
Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs) are a problem that has been under increased scrutiny in recent years. To help reduce the incidence of HAPUs and to improve their management, a burn unit–centered wound care team was established. The team decided to pursue two goals: to identify opportunities for improvement that may help prevent HAPUs and to evaluate all available support surfaces to identify those that might best help with pressure redistribution. To identify opportunities for improvement, the team studied each new case of HAPUs throughout our hospital with a forensic chart review for a 3-year period. To identify the best support surfaces to help reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers, we evaluated all support surfaces available at our institution by pressure mapping in healthy volunteers. From 3 years of collecting and reporting data for quality improvement, we identified 23 patients with HAPUs and obtained more than 800 data sets from pressure mapping in healthy volunteers. Most (23/24; 96%) patients with HAPUs identified in this series had undergone a surgical procedure. The results of the quality improvement studies are presented. We conclude that prevention planning of HAPUs needs to be improved in patients undergoing surgery, in particular. No single support surface can prevent pressure ulcers, but use of overlays may help reduce peak pressures over bony prominences.