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A study examining rates of medical staff recognition of pressure ulceration in hospital inpatients
  1. Jonathan Blackman1,
  2. Joe Walsgrove1,
  3. Indunil Gunawardena2
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Bournemouth, UK
  2. 2Department of Geriatric Medicine, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Bournemouth, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Indunil Gunawardena, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 2 Turnberry, Norwich, NR4 6PX, UK; indunil.gunawardena{at}


Background The incidence of pressure ulceration among UK hospital inpatients has been estimated at 10.2–10.3%. These patients are at increased risk of developing osteomyelitis and subsequent sepsis. This study sought to test whether medical staff recognition rates of hospital inpatients with pressure ulceration were low and to consider underlying causes and potential solutions.

Methods Interviews were conducted with nursing staff on multiple wards in July 2012 to obtain a definitive list of patients with pressure ulcers, with their corresponding location and grade. Junior members of medical teams with responsibility for the same group of patients were independently interviewed and asked to identify all patients who they knew to have pressure ulcers. The number correctly identified by the medical teams was compared with the total number of known pressure ulcers to produce a recognition rate. Patients with clinical evidence of sepsis were highlighted.

Results Twenty-seven patients on five wards were identified by nursing staff as having pressure ulceration areas. Nine patients were stated to have multiple pressure ulceration areas, giving a total of 38 pressure ulcers. Medical teams correctly identified eight of 27 (29.6%) of these patients. The correct site and grade was identified in four of 38 (10.5%) and two of 38 (5.3%) cases, respectively. Of these patients 14/27 (51.8%) had evidence of infection. In this subgroup five of 14 (35.7%) were correctly identified as having pressure ulceration areas.

Conclusions The lack of medical awareness could lead to delayed recognition of deep-seated infection or osteomyelitis. Reasons for this are likely to be multifactorial and require a combination of cultural change, improved education and improved information sharing.

  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Wound Management

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