Pressure injury prevention

A pressure injury, also referred to as a pressure ulcer or bed sore, is an injury to the skin caused by unrelieved pressure and may occur when the patient is unable to move due to illness, injury, or surgery. They can happen quickly, from lying or sitting in the same position for too long.

Many pressure injuries are highly preventable. It is recognised that their lengthy healing time has consequences for quality of life, including susceptibility to infection, pain, sleep and mood disturbance. They also impact on rehabilitation, mobility and long-term quality of life. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has recognised pressure injuries as the fifth most costly commonly-occurring preventable condition.

The Pressure Injury Prevention Project was established in October 2012, to help reduce the occurrence of pressure injuries, and if they do occur, to help reduce the recovery time for the patient. It promotes evidence-based practice for the prevention and management of pressure injuries and increases awareness of pressure injury prevention among health care professionals.

It assists health professionals to identify patients at risk, identify strategies to assess pressure injuries and factors related to their risk, prevent or delay complications, optimise management of pressure injuries and optimise quality of life for the patient.

Policy Implementation

The NSW Health Pressure Injury Prevention and Management Policy (PD2014_007), is based on best practice in alignment with the Pan Pacific Clinical Practice Guideline for the Prevention and Management of Pressure Injury 2012. The objective of the policy is to improve patient safety and the quality of clinical care. The underlying principles of the Pressure Injury Prevention Project are aligned with elements of the NSQHSS, Standard 8 Preventing and Managing Pressure Injuries which describes evidence-based systems to prevent pressure injuries and manage them when they do occur.

The CEC has developed tools, resources and an implementation guide to help facilities reduce pressure injuries. Local patient care planning and delivery should be consistent with this policy and best-practice guidelines, and be appropriate for the patient population.