Protocol for the successful treatment of pressure ulcers

Am J Surg. 2004 Jul;188(1A Suppl):9-17. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9610(03)00285-X.


Bed-bound patients with pressure ulcers are almost twice as likely to die as are those without pressure ulcers. If pressure ulcers are treated with a comprehensive regimen upon early recognition, nearly all stage IV ulcers can be avoided. Furthermore, such a regimen can significantly reduce the comorbidities, mortalities, and costs of treatments resulting from stage IV ulcers. The costs of treatments for comorbidities after the ulcer progresses to stage IV far outweigh the costs for early treatment of the ulcer before it progresses beyond the early stages. We describe herein the 4 stages of pressure ulcers, as well as the pathogeneses, costs, and complications associated with these wounds. A comprehensive 12-step detailed protocol for treatment of pressure ulcers is described; this includes recognizing that every patient with limited mobility is at risk for developing a sacral, ischial, trochanteric, or heel ulcer; daily assessment of the skin; objective measurement of every wound; immediate initiation of a treatment protocol; mechanical debridement of all nonviable tissue; establishment of a moist wound-healing environment; nutritional supplementation for malnourished patients; pressure relief for the wound; elimination of drainage and cellulitus; biological therapy for patients whose wounds fail to respond to more traditional therapies; physical therapy; and palliative care. Availability of the described treatment modalities, in combination with early recognition and regular monitoring, ensures rapid healing and minimizes morbidity, mortality, and costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pressure Ulcer / economics
  • Pressure Ulcer / pathology
  • Pressure Ulcer / therapy*