A national study of pressure ulcer prevalence and incidence in acute care hospitals

J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2000 Jul;27(4):209-15. doi: 10.1067/mjw.2000.107879.


Objective: This study sought to establish national benchmarks for pressure ulcer prevalence and incidence among acute care health organizations served by Novation LLC.

Setting and subjects: One hundred sixteen acute care facilities from 34 states participated; the sample consisted of 17,560 patients in hospital-based medical-surgical or intensive care units.

Instruments: Standardized education kits were provided to each participating site. The kits included an educational video about pressure ulcer staging, a post-test and answer key, and assessment form for patient data collection.

Methods: Pressure ulcer prevalence was measured during a predetermined 24-hour period at each facility. Incidence was measured over the average length of stay determined for each participating facility. Subjects were assessed by teams consisting of a registered nurse and one other health care professional (e.g. licensed practical nurse, physical therapist). Demographic, wound, and other data were collected for these patients. Data collection forms were audited and submitted to a central site for database entry, analysis, and generation of reports.

Results: The average length of stay for the participating facilities was 5 days. Pressure ulcers developed in 7% of the subjects (n = 383); 90% were stage I or II pressure ulcers, and 73% occurred in patients older than 65 years. The most sites based on both prevalence and incidence measurements were the sacrum and coccyx at 26% and 31%, respectively.

Conclusions: Prevalence and incidence studies must be routinely conducted to clearly identify the extent of the pressure ulcer problem to provide guidance for efficient and effective corrective action.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benchmarking*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure Ulcer / epidemiology*
  • Pressure Ulcer / pathology
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology