One in eight acute patients experience pain, soreness or discomfort on skin sites deemed “at risk” of ulcers, even when there is no obvious tissue damage, according to UK researchers.
The Leeds University study looked at unattributed pressure area-related pain prevalence in nine hospitals, with 2,010 patients completing a survey.
The researchers said 1,769 patients had no pressure ulcers but 12.6%, or one in eight, reported unattributed pressure area-related pain.
Of the 241 patients with pressure ulcers, 104 patients reported pain – a prevalence of 43.2% or more than two out of five.
The authors said their findings “provide a clear indication” that all patients should be asked if they have pain at pressure areas even when they do not have press ulcers.
“This is in an area which is a priority for patients and impacts upon the quality of life of nearly half of the population,” they said in the online journal BMC Nursing.
They noted that patients with pressure ulcers reported that pain was their most distressing symptom, but there had been few previous studies into pressure ulcer pain prevalence.
They said: “This study is the first to assess unattributed pressure area-related pain in a large representative hospital population including patients with and without pressure ulcers.”
The organisations involved in the study were two large UK teaching hospital trusts, running a total of six hospitals, and one district general hospital trust, running three hospitals.
A total of 3,397 patients were included in routine pressure ulcer prevalence audits at the hospitals, of which 59% participated in the pain prevalence study.
The authors added: “The importance of inclusion of patients without pressure ulcers is underlined by the findings that 12.6% of patients without pressure ulcers reported pain on an ‘at risk’ skin site.”
“This group could be important because they are reporting pain over an ‘at risk’ skin site which they believed to be caused by pressure but they were not yet displaying damage clinically,” they said.
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