A hospital trust that used to report one pressure ulcer nearly every day has seen rates drop to an all-time low thanks to the efforts of specialist nurses and training for ward staff.
East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said it had seen numbers of hospital-acquired ulcers fall dramatically over the last seven years and was now achieving one of the lowest rates in the country.
“Our much improved performance means that patients are able to recover more quickly”
In 2010, pressure ulcers were reported at the rate of nearly one per day but last year there were just 31 cases in total. It has been six years since the trust recorded a grade 4 ulcer.
In addition, more than half of wards at one of the trust’s four hospital sites – The Lister Hospital in Stevenage – have not had a hospital-acquired ulcer in over a year.
The trust highlighted that pressure ulcer prevention measures have included use of the SSKIN care bundle, which sets out five key steps to reduce pressure sores.
This includes keeping patients under constant review – especially those most at risk – and taking steps to stop ulcers developing in the first place.
The trust also noted that its tissue viability nurses worked with ward-based colleagues to educate and train them on techniques to prevent pressure ulcers.
In addition, the specialists reviewed high risk patients and advised on the best approach to follow, such as using heel protectors, slide sheets and special mattresses
Dianne Brett, the trust’s lead tissue viability nurse, said reducing the number of ulcers had helped boost overall patient wellbeing, cut the amount of time people were spending in hospital and ensured more older patients could continue living independently at home.
“For most of our patients, there is so much that can be done to prevent pressure ulcers being acquired when in hospital,” she said.
“What many of us forget is that our skin is an organ and like any other organ in the body, it is prone to failure – especially in older patients who may have many health problems already,” said Ms Brett.
She added: “Our much improved performance means that patients are able to recover more quickly and go back home following their hospital admission – with the real benefit being the number of people for whom life returns to as normal as possible.”