Patient repositioning and pressure ulcer risk--monitoring interface pressures of at-risk patients

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2013;50(4):477-88. doi: 10.1682/jrrd.2012.03.0040.


Repositioning patients regularly to prevent pressure ulcers and reduce interface pressures is the standard of care, yet prior work has found that standard repositioning does not relieve all areas of at-risk tissue in nondisabled subjects. To determine whether this holds true for high-risk patients, we assessed the effectiveness of routine repositioning in relieving at-risk tissue of the perisacral area using interface pressure mapping. Bedridden patients at risk for pressure ulcer formation (n = 23, Braden score <18) had their perisacral skin-bed interface pressures recorded every 30 s while they received routine repositioning care for 4-6 h. All participants had specific skin areas (206 +/- 182 cm(2)) that exceeded elevated pressure thresholds for >95% of the observation period. Thirteen participants were observed in three distinct positions (supine, turned left, turned right), and all had specific skin areas (166 +/- 184 cm(2)) that exceeded pressure thresholds for >95% of the observation period. At-risk patients have skin areas that are likely always at risk throughout their hospital stay despite repositioning. Healthcare providers are unaware of the actual tissue-relieving effectiveness (or lack thereof) of their repositioning interventions, which may partially explain why pressure ulcer mitigation strategies are not always successful. Relieving at-risk tissue is a necessary part of pressure ulcer prevention, but the repositioning practice itself needs improvement.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / methods*
  • Pressure
  • Pressure Ulcer / etiology*
  • Risk Factors