The skin is the largest nonsolid organ in the human body. However, the skin does not receive the same kind of attention that solid organs such as the heart, lungs, or brain do. The skin certainly does not receive the kind of urgent attention that solid organs receive when they display signs of compromise.

Patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) are the most disadvantaged when it comes to maintaining intact skin, starting from day one of their stay.1,2  Critically ill patients may be sedated, receiving mechanical ventilation, and confined to bed for long periods. Prolonged pressure on areas where bony prominences are located predisposes these patients to pressure ulcers.(p1383) Because of critically ill patients’ inability to turn themselves, caregivers must reposition them in bed. If improperly performed, repositioning can cause friction and shearing, which lead to pressure ulcers.

Many of these patients also...

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