Prevalence of Skin Tears in Elderly Patients: A Retrospective Chart Review of Incidence Reports in 6 Long-term Care Facilities

Ostomy Wound Manage. 2018 Apr;64(4):30-36.


The incidence and prevalence of skin tears in long-term care (LTC) facilities has not been well established. To ascertain the point prevalence of reported skin tears, a retrospective review of incident reports was performed in 6 LTC facilities in western Pennsylvania from November 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. Report data, including resident age; gender; mobility limitations; skin tear location, number, and cause (if known); occurrence time (7 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 11 pm, or 11 pm to 7 am nursing shift); and history of previous skin tears, were abstracted. All data were entered into a statistical analysis program and analyzed using descriptive statistics. Period prevalence was used to determine prevalence rate; an independent t test was used to compare the presence of skin tears between genders. Differences between location and cause of skin tears were evaluated using a multinomial test of related proportions. A test of proportions was used to evaluate skin tear occurrence time (nursing shift) differences. The overall point prevalence rate was 9% (N = 1253 residents) ranging from 6 to 28 skin tears per facility. The average age of residents with a skin tear (n = 119) was 83.5 years. The majority (111, 93%) had mobility limitations. Falls accounted for 38 skin tears (31.9%), followed by propelling in a wheelchair (18, 15.1%; X2 =7.14; P = .008). Forearm skin tears (37, 31.1%) occurred significantly more frequently than lower leg skin tears (19, 16%; P = .016). Significantly more skin tears occurred during the 7 am to 3 pm shift (47, 39.5%) and 3 pm to 11 pm shift (49, 41.2%) than during the 11 pm to 7 am shift (23, 19.3%; X2 = 5.78; P <.01). The results of this study confirm skin tears are a significant problem among elderly residents in LTC, especially because the reported rate is likely lower than the actual rate. Research to further elucidate the incidence and prevalence of skin tears and associated risk factors is needed to help develop evidence-based risk assessment, classification systems, treatment guidelines, and preventive measures.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Geriatrics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Long-Term Care / methods
  • Long-Term Care / organization & administration
  • Long-Term Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Prevalence*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management / methods
  • Risk Management / statistics & numerical data
  • Skin / injuries*