Critical care nurses must be able to skillfully balance the prevention of adverse events such as pressure injuries in an environment with multiple competing and lifesaving technologies that often take precedent. Despite strategies to prevent them, pressure injuries do occur in intensive care unit patients, and consensus is building that some pressure injuries are unavoidable.


To determine critical care nurses’ attitudes toward prevention of pressure injury and the perceptions of frontline critical care nurses of specific risk factors associated with unavoidable pressure injuries.


A descriptive cross-sectional survey design was used. An online survey was posted on the newsletter website of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses in January 2016.


An invitation to participate in the study was emailed to more than 3000 members of the association; 333 nurses responded, for a response rate of approximately 11%. Among the responders, 73% were employed as bedside critical care nurses. More than half (67%) thought that pressure injuries are avoidable, and 66% disagreed that pressure injury prevention was of less interest than other aspects of critical care. The top 2 risk factors for unavoidable pressure injuries were impaired tissue perfusion and impaired tissue oxygenation.


Critical care nurses are steadfast stewards of safe patient care and think that pressure injury prevention is a crucial aspect of the care they deliver every day. The findings on risk factors for unavoidable pressure injuries mirrored those of experts and provide a layer of support for these factors.

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