Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs) are a costly and largely preventable complication occurring in a variety of acute care settings. Because they are considered preventable, stage III and IV HAPUs are not reimbursed by Medicare.
To assess the effectiveness of a formal, year-long HAPU prevention program in an adult intensive care unit, with a goal of achieving at least a 50% reduction in 2013, compared with 2011.
Planning for the prevention program began in 2012, and the program was rolled out in the first quarter of 2013. Program components included use of Braden scores, a revised skin care protocol, fluidized repositioners, and silicone gel adhesive dressings. Efforts were made to educate and motivate staff and encourage them to be more proactive in detecting patients at risk of HAPUs.
Incidence of HAPUs in the unit was reduced by 69% (n = 17; 3% of patients in 2013 vs n = 45, 10% of patients in 2011), despite a 22% increase in patient load. The potential cost saving as a result of this decrease was approximately $1 million.
A comprehensive, proactive, collaborative ulcer prevention program based on staff education and a focus on adherence to protocols for patient care can be an effective way to reduce the incidence of HAPUs in intensive care units.