BACKGROUND: Although it is well known that pressure ulcers are associated with negative patient outcomes and increased hospital cost, there is little research related to pressure ulcers in an intensive care unit population. OBJECTIVE: To determine the relative contribution of risk factors in the development of pressure ulcers in intensive care unit patients. METHOD: In an exploratory descriptive design, a convenience sample of 85 adults was used. Patients were enrolled in the study within 24 hours of admission to the intensive care unit; data were collected every other day until discharge from the intensive care unit. Instruments included a demographic data form, Braden Scale for Predicting Pressure Sore Risk, Skin Assessment Tool, and Decubitus Ulcer Potential Analyzer. RESULTS: The most common reasons for admission to the intensive care unit included multiple trauma from motor vehicle accidents, gunshot and stab wounds, and gastrointestinal bleeding. A pressure ulcer developed in 48 subjects. There were no significant differences in age, gender, history of diabetes or smoking, or medical diagnoses between patients in whom a pressure ulcer developed and those in whom it did not. Data analysis indicated that a Braden Scale score of 11, rather than the recommended score of 16, was statistically significant for predicting pressure ulcer risk. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that a cut-off score on the Braden Scale could be specific to an intensive care unit trauma population.

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