Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Pressure ulcer tool 'not accurate' for critical care, say nurses

  • 1 Comment

Pressure ulcers in intensive care patients may have been either over- or undertreated because a widely-used tool may not be sensitive enough for critical care, according to US researchers.

Reviewing the records of 7,790 ICU patients, researchers at the Ohio State University concluded the Braden scale was not accurate when it came to evaluating ICU patients.

“We’re beginning to identify factors unique to ICU patients”

Brenda Vermillion

“The scale told us that every single patient in the ICU was at high risk for a pressure ulcer. But we knew that not every single patient went on to get an ulcer,” said Brenda Vermillion, a clinical nurse specialist who participated in the study.

“Going by the score means that most ICU patients would either be under – or over treated for ulcer prevention – and neither is optimal.”

The study found a score of 16 on the Braden Scale, which is the current high risk indicator for ICU patients, would have better predictive validity and accuracy if it was moved closer to a score of 13.

However, even with shifting the risk score lower, the researchers suggest the scale still does not sufficiently reflect the characteristics of ICU patients who may have a range of comorbid conditions and medications that make them more at risk for ulcers.

Ms Vermillion added: “We’re beginning to identify factors unique to ICU patients, such as ventilator status, that can help us better predict which patients are really at risk.”

She acknowledged that Braden is still very useful in other settings and that ICU nurses will continue to use the scale as a “starting point”.


What do you think?

At 1pm on Wednesday 2 April we’re going to be hosting a twitter discussion on whether there is too much reliance on assessment tools in modern healthcare.

Join in by searching for #NTtwitchat and including this hashtag in all your tweets

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • I've yet to use any tool that didn't tell me something I already knew. Pointless paper exercises!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.