Good management of pressure ulcers can significantly improve quality of life for affected patients. These sores continue to be a common problem within healthcare settings and education can be the difference between prevention and cure. This guide outlines the key areas to monitor.

Skin:

It is important to regularly check the skin of those patients at risk of developing pressure sores in order to catch signs of damage early on. The skin must be kept clean, dry and well hydrated.

Movement: 

The patient should be repositioned by medical staff regularly, both to improve circulation and to relieve pressure over bony areas such as heels and elbows. A repositioning chart is a useful tool here. Be careful to keep movement near the damaged area to a minimum.

Surface:

A pressure care mattress, cushion or overlay should be used as a preventative measure. The product should be matched to the customer’s needs and regularly reviewed for both suitability and function. Karomed offers complementary servicing for all their equipment.

Incontinence/moisture:

Because the skin in an immobile patient must always be kept clean and dry, incontinence management systems must be used where needed. The skin must also be monitored for increased temperature and humidity to keep sweat to a minimum as moisture weakens the skin. Karomed use an innovative material called Dartex, which is NHS recommended, and is both waterproof and vapour permeable.

Nutrition/hydration:

The nutritional balance of a patient can affect the health of their skin. It takes around 1000 calories to replace 1cm2 of damaged skin so any prescribed nutritional supplements must be used and the patient must be kept well hydrated.

Pain management:

Pressure sores can be extremely painful, especially during dressing changes, so ensure that adequate pain relief is administered.

Documentation

All pressure sores categorised as grade 2 or above must be documented using local reporting procedures. Any sudden deterioration in the patient requires a reassessment of the pressure sore and care plan updated as appropriate. Specialist advice can be given where appropriate.