Changing position is key to beating pressure ulcers

Dr Kevin Hill
Dr Kevin Hill

HEALTH MATTERS: By Dr Kevin Hill

South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group is raising awareness of the signs of, and how patients, their carers and families can help avoid, pressure ulcers to support Stop Pressure Ulcers Day.

It is estimated that just under half a million people in the UK will develop at least one pressure ulcer in any given year. This is usually people with an underlying health condition. For example, around one-in-20 people who are admitted to hospital with a sudden illness will develop a pressure ulcer.

People over 70-years-old are particularly vulnerable to pressure ulcers as they are more likely to have mobility problems and more fragile skin.

Pressure ulcers are mostly avoidable and the signs to look out for include the skin looking red or discoloured, discomfort, blistering and skin damage. They can develop when a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time. They can also occur when less pressure is applied over a longer period of time. The areas on the body usually affected include the shoulders or shoulder blades, elbows, the back of the head and the buttock area. For some people, pressure ulcers are an inconvenience that requires minor nursing care. In rare cases, they can be serious and lead to life-threatening complications, such as blood poisoning or gangrene.

Making regular and frequent changes to the position of the patient is one of the most effective ways of preventing pressure ulcers. If the pressure ulcer has developed then changing position will avoid putting further pressure on the area and give the wound the best chance of healing.

Dr Kevin Hill, Chair of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Research shows that over 90% of pressure ulcers are avoidable and that treatment costs the NHS over £2billion a year.

“We are committed to working across the health community to prevent the reduction of pressure sores. If you see any difference in your own skin or that of a patient or family member please tell your health visitor, district nurse or contact your GP to have it treated as quickly as possible”