Assessing the adequacy of pressure ulcer prevention in hospitals: a nationwide prevalence survey

BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Mar;20(3):260-7. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs.2010.043125. Epub 2011 Jan 5.


Introduction: The development of a pressure ulcer is an adverse event and is often avoidable if adequate preventive measures are applied. No large-scale data, based on direct patient observations, are available regarding the pressure ulcer preventive interventions used in hospitals.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to obtain insight into the adequacy of interventions used to prevent pressure ulcers in Belgian hospitals.

Methods: A cross-sectional, multi-centre pressure ulcer prevalence study was performed in Belgian hospitals. The methodology used to measure pressure ulcer prevalence was developed by the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. The data collection instrument includes five categories of data: general data, patient data, risk assessment, skin observation and prevention.

Results: The total sample consisted of 19,968 patients. The overall prevalence of pressure ulcers Category I-IV was 12.1%. Only 10.8% of the patients at risk received fully adequate prevention in bed and while sitting. More than 70% of the patients not at risk received some pressure ulcer prevention while lying or sitting.

Conclusion: Generally, there is a limited use of adequate preventive interventions for pressure ulcers in hospitals, which reflects a rather low quality of preventive care. The implementation of pressure ulcer guidelines requires more attention. The pressure ulcer prevention used in practice should be re-evaluated on a regular basis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hospital Administration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult