Setting and Scope
Of the 20 programs reviewed in acute care settings,9–28 all but one17 were rolled out on multiple units or hospital-wide. Two studies reported spreading the program throughout the system after testing it on a small number of pilot units.18,22 Long-term-care facility initiatives included between 1 and 20 participating facilities.29–32
The individuals who initiated and led the improvement efforts were not specified in any of the reviewed articles. However, a distinction was found between programs that were initiated and led internally by staff members9–13,15–28 and programs that were designed by external experts and implemented in collaboration with the facility in question.14,29–32 Once the need for change was identified, several facilities chose to establish a team responsible for the design and/or implementation of the intervention. Teams responsible for designing and implementing the programs were generally multidisciplinary and, if specified, included combinations of nurses and nursing aides, wound experts, dietitians, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, clinical researchers, educators, information technology staff, managers, and directors.10,11,15,18,20–25,27
Preparations. Twelve of the reviewed studies specified a set of activities completed prior to developing and implementing their initiatives.10–13,15,16,18,20,22,24,27,31 Preparations included literature reviews of best practices for prevention and treatment of PrUs; baseline prevalence and incidence surveys; assessments of current state of staff knowledge, existing policies, and care processes; and the testing, evaluation, and selection of pressure relief equipment or skin care products.
Pressure Ulcer Prevention Best Practices. Consistent with existing clinical practice guidelines, studies that described their PrU prevention protocol most commonly reported the use of standardized tools for assessing risk for PrUs; regular skin (re)assessment; an individualized care plan for patients at risk for PrUs; the use of pressure relief equipment, such as low-air loss mattresses and heel lifts; nutritional assessment and consultation for at-risk patients; frequent turning and repositioning; and the use of skin care products and moisture barrier creams.
Staff Education. All but 4 studies13,16,23,30 described some form of education or training to increase staff knowledge. Generally, education was targeted at nursing staff and included instructions on PrU treatment and prevention practices, presentations of new or existing facility guidelines and policies, and training on the use of skin care products and support surfaces. Two studies reported educational programs for physicians.20,28 Most of the studies reported formal staff educational activities, such as unit in-service sessions and workshops, computerized educational modules, educational packages for staff, skin fairs, and wound conferences.9–12,14,15,18–22,24–29,31,32 Three studies furthermore reported the integration of PrU prevention and treatment into their orientation of new hires.18,20,21
In addition to formal activities, several studies described more informal ways of teaching PrU prevention.9,11,17,22,27,31 One-on-one mentoring, consultation, and support at the bedside through certified nursing staff, training provided in preparation of PrU data collection, and individual case reviews of hospital-acquired PrUs were among the opportunities seized to provide ongoing training.
Clinical Monitoring and Feedback. Ongoing clinical monitoring was frequently used to encourage behavior change and ensure compliance with the PrU prevention practices. Staff compliance with existing protocols was monitored through daily, weekly, or monthly rounding of the wound nurses or other nursing staff; regular chart audits; and PrU tracking forms and compliance monitoring tools.9–13,15,18,21,22,24,26–28,30,31 Additional strategies for continuous improvement included preventability or root-cause analyses when a patient developed a PrU and the development of action plans when results of the surveys were unsatisfactory.13,18,26
Providing feedback on the quality improvement process and sharing PrU rates with the staff at all levels was a priority reported in the majority of studies. Eight of the 24 studies highlighted the importance of sharing the results from their surveys with the staff by posting the PrU rates on unit billboards; publishing them in unit newsletters; distributing them to unit managers, directors, and senior leadership; or discussing them at staff meetings.9,12,17,18,20,21,30,32
Skin Care Champions. Seven of the acute care studies created the role of a skin care champion as part of their PrU prevention program.10,13–15,21,26,27 The roles and responsibilities of skin care champions varied slightly from site to site. Generally, the staff members received additional training in PrU treatment and prevention, and their responsibilities included a combination of the following elements: to introduce the new policies and interventions on the unit, to serve as skin care resource and mentor to coworkers, to serve as liaison between the unit and other parties involved in the improvement efforts, and to participate in the data collection and ongoing process monitoring.
Other Elements. To increase awareness and provide cues to action for consistent and correct implementation of the new clinical practices, several programs utilized audiovisual support and other isolated activities.9,10,12,13,15,17,18,20–22,24,27,29–32 Examples of these support elements included use of turn clocks, stickers in the patient charts or outside patient rooms to identify patients with PrUs or at risk for developing one, PrU pocket guides and reference cards, theme songs played every 2 hours, penlights for skin assessments, weekly skin care newsletters, posters on the units, and manuals or guidebooks on skin care products, support equipment, or PrU prevention and treatment protocols. Another strategy to ensure continued awareness of the program was the development of acronyms and themes related to the program. The following themes were identified in the reviewed literature: “Check, Rock & Roll Around the Clock”9; PUPPI (Pressure Ulcer Prevention Protocol Interventions)11; “Save Our Skin”13,27; SKIN (Surfaces, Keep the patients turning, Incontinence management, Nutrition)18; and TOE (Turn, Overlay, Elevate).22
Strategies to Sustain Efforts. It is not evident in the literature if initiatives were discontinued after completion of the project period, or whether all or certain intervention components were continued even after the formal study phase. A number of studies, however, suggested ongoing measurement and reporting of PrU rates as a strategy for ensuring continued awareness of PrU prevention.9,11,13,14,18,23,24,26 Four studies reported identification of new practice issues as a way for sustaining the momentum of the prevention efforts.16,18,24,28 Finally, 1 study noted that additional visual and auditory cues were introduced after completion of the study to ensure consistent adherence to PrU prevention protocols.22
PrU Rates. The majority of studies reported positive outcomes from their PrU prevention initiatives; however, P values assessing statistical significance were rarely reported. Almost all of the reviewed studies measured PrU prevalence rates before and after implementation of their quality improvement projects.9–28 Seven studies did not sufficiently describe the results of their prevalence surveys to draw meaningful conclusions.12,13,18,22,26–28 Eleven studies saw a decrease in prevalence rates over the course of the study period,9,10,11,14–17,20,21,23,24 whereas 2 programs reported no significant changes.19,25
Ten studies reported PrU incidence rates.9,12,13,18,24–29,32 Eight of these studies reported a decrease in rates between baseline and follow-up; 1 study reported that incidence rates increased between project year 1 and year 4 without statistical significance,25 and 1 study noted that results could not be sustained during the postimplementation phase.32
Care Processes. Process measures were reported by 2 acute care-setting studies14,16 and 3 long-term-care-facility studies.29–31 One acute care-setting study measured the use of a new mattress and implementation of a repositioning schedule and found no significant change in preventive behavior when the use of new support mattresses was not taken into account.14 The other acute care study reported minimal improvements in some of the measured care processes.16 Among the 3 multisite long-term-care facility programs, one reported an overall improvement of clinical practice benchmarks across all participating facilities after implementation of the 8-week program.31 The other 2 multisite studies saw significant improvement in 8 of 12 and 9 of 12 care processes when aggregated across the participating sites.29,30
Other Outcomes. Positive outcomes, such as increased staff awareness and knowledge, as well as change in attitudes toward PrU prevention, were noted in several of the articles. However, reports of these outcomes were mostly anecdotal and were not validated by any formal evaluation.
This review showed that there is an array of studies describing the use of multipronged initiatives to prevent PrU development among patients in hospitals and long-term-care facilities. Moreover, many programs reported impressive improvements in PrU prevalence or incidence rates. These results suggest that multifaceted, multidisciplinary programs are effective in preventing PrUs
A number of approaches were widely used as components of the multipronged approach and are likely to contribute to its success. In preparation of implementation, literature reviews or assessment of the current state of PrU practice was often used to provide a baseline for the data collection and identify areas in need for improvement. Intervention components included the use of a “bundle” of best practices for PrU prevention, the reliance on a unit skin care champions, and an emphasis on staff education. Strategies to generate staff enthusiasm and increase awareness and adherence to the best practices, such as turning clocks or skin care newsletters, often were used. The involvement of frontline staff members in all stages of program design and implementation was considered to be essential by many studies to ensure staff engagement, ownership, and dedication. Providing frequent real-time data feedback and giving staff credit for improvement, celebrating success, and stimulating a healthy competition among the units were frequently described as ways of engaging the staff and providing them a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Finally, regular monitoring of charts, weekly or monthly rounding, and root-cause analysis to examine what went wrong when a PrU developed were also used successfully.
Few studies commented on long-term sustainability of the intervention, and there was little in the literature to suggest how improvements could be maintained. Continuous monitoring of PrU rates, the presence of a wound care team or unit champions, and continued formal and informal education seemed to be some of the elements that could positively influence the maintenance of positive outcomes.
Despite the number of studies showing benefit, results must be interpreted with caution. Foremost, the level of evidence is weak. Studies mostly consisted of a longitudinal 1-group pretest-posttest design. They have neither randomization to interventions nor control groups. Description of methods for data collection and analysis was often neglected in the publications. Only 5 studies reported process measures. This makes it difficult to determine whether the interventions contributed to increased staff compliance with new PrU prevention practices. In addition, some of the studies that measured care processes showed that albeit improved, adherence to certain best practices still remained low. One of the studies, for example, found that the proportion of residents with appropriate risk assessment completed within 2 days of admission increased from 2.2% to only 15.3%, whereas the proportion of residents with PrUs that receive weekly skin assessments increased from 12.6% to 32.8%.29
Furthermore, the components of the multifaceted programs were not evaluated individually, and it is therefore not possible to determine the impact of each single component. There is also a high likelihood of publication bias. Nearly all published studies were positive in showing a benefit. Given the multitude of interventions, it is not plausible that all programs would work. More likely, those programs that showed a benefit were more likely to be written up and published. Finally, studies generally did not describe or analyze the processes by which the new programs were implemented, the challenges they faced, and how they did overcome them. However, organizational change requires attention not only to the content of the program, but also to the strategies needed to implement the program.
Improving PrU prevention remains an important issue for hospital patients. This literature review has identified many components that have consistently been included in successful multifaceted PrU interventions. A review of the studies supports previously reported exemplars of success in PrU reduction initiatives. This includes administrative support with active involvement of clinical staff at the patient care level, bundling of care practices and infusing them into routine care practice, creating systemwide change and communication that is individualized to the institution’s culture, making visible the documentation of PrU prevention practices, and regular education of all levels of staff.33 Prevention practices of risk assessment, pressure redistribution and repositioning, and attention to skin care are common bundle care elements. It appears that the more care practices are incorporated into usual care practices, the more staff are apt to perform them and not see them as “another task to perform.” For example, including skin inspection while taking vital signs and reporting a patient’s PrU risk assessment status as part of the patient’s handoff report are ways for staff to consistently perform suggested prevention interventions. The best outcomes are a result of PrU prevention bundle care practices performed consistently.
Pressure ulcer quality improvement teams that are empowered within their institutions appear to have more success. No one composition of the team has been identified as being best; each institution must decide what mix of the interdisciplinary team needs to be included in its oversight of PrU reduction initiatives. Pressure ulcer reduction initiatives should be customized and prioritized for the needs of professionals in that institution.34
Making too many changes at one time may impact the sustainability of PrU prevention practices. Dahlstrom et al35 found that also changing to an electronic medical record at the same time as their PrU prevention program decreased gains previously seen. Virani et al36 have summarized factors that contribute to poor sustainability of evidence-based practices, including inadequate time for teaching new practices to staff, inadequate attention to barriers of acceptance of new practices, and organizational factors such as inadequate resources for equipment/supplies and infrastructure support. They recommend that “sustainability of practice changes therefore requires systematic, thoughtful planning and action to ensure that the changes are embedded into the various knowledge reservoirs in the organization.”36 The authors agree with Virani et al,36 who believe that a regular review of research literature and practice guidelines should be used to evaluate an institution’s PrU practices. What did not work in one institution might work in another. Facilities that have implemented PrU programs, successfully or not, should be encouraged to rigorously evaluate their programs and publish their results to strengthen the level of evidence.
1. VanGilder C, Amlung S, Harrison P, Meyer S. Results of the 2008-2009 International Pressure Ulcer Prevalence Survey and a 3-year, acute care, unit-specific analysis. Ostomy Wound Manage 2009; 55 (11): 39–45.
4. Pancorbo-Hidalgo PL, Garcia-Fernandez FP, Lopez-Medina IM, Alvarez-Nieto C. Risk assessment scales for pressure ulcer prevention: a systematic review. J Adv Nurs 2006; 54 (1): 94–110.
5. McInnes E, Bell-Syer SE, Dumville JC, Legood R, Cullum NA. Support surfaces for pressure ulcer prevention. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008; (4): CD001735.
6. Rich SE, Shardell M, Margolis D, Baumgarten M. Pressure ulcer prevention device use among elderly patients early in the hospital stay. Nurs Res 2009; 58: 95–104.
7. Lyder CH, Preston J, Grady JN, et al.. Quality of care for hospitalized Medicare patients at risk for pressure ulcers. Arch Intern Med 2001; 161: 1549–54.
8. Saliba D, Rubenstein L, Simon B, et al.. Adherence to pressure ulcer prevention guidelines: implications for nursing home quality. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003; 51 (1): 56–62.
9. Baldelli P, Paciella M. Creation and implementation of a pressure ulcer prevention bundle improves patient outcomes. Am J Med Qual 2008; 23: 136–42.
10. Bales I, Padwojski A. Reaching for the moon: achieving zero pressure ulcer prevalence. J Wound Care. 2009; 18: 137–44.
11. Catania K, Huang C, James P, Madison M, Moran M, Ohr M. Wound wise: PUPPI: the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Protocol Interventions. Am J Nurs 2007; 107 (4): 44–52.
12. Chicano SG, Drolshagen C. Reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs 2009; 36 (1): 45–50.
13. Courtney BA, Ruppman JB, Cooper HM. Save our skin: initiative cuts pressure ulcer incidence in half. Nurs Manage 2006; 37 (4):36, 38, 40 passim.
14. De Laat EH, Schoonhoven L, Pickkers P, Verbeek AL, Van Achterberg T. Implementation of a new policy results in a decrease of pressure ulcer frequency. Int J Qual Health Care 2006; 18: 107–12.
15. Dibsie LG. Implementing evidence-based practice to prevent skin breakdown. Crit Care Nurs Q 2008; 31: 140–9.
16. Elliott J. Strategies to improve the prevention of pressure ulcers. Nurs Older People 2010; 22 (9): 31–6.
17. Elliott R, McKinley S, Fox V. Quality improvement program to reduce the prevalence of pressure ulcers in an intensive care unit. Am J Crit Care 2008; 17: 328–34.
18. Gibbons W, Shanks HT, Kleinhelter P, Jones P. Eliminating facility-acquired pressure ulcers at Ascension Health. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2006; 32: 488–96.
19. Gunningberg L, Stotts NA. Tracking quality over time: what do pressure ulcer data show? Int J Qual Health Care 2008; 20: 246–53.
20. Hiser B, Rochette J, Philbin S, Lowerhouse N, Terburgh C, Pietsch C. Implementing a pressure ulcer prevention program and enhancing the role of the CWOCN: impact on outcomes. Ostomy Wound Manage 2006; 52 (2): 48–59.
21. Hopkins B, Hanlon M, Yauk S, Sykes S, Rose T, Cleary A. Reducing nosocomial pressure ulcers in an acute care facility. J Nurs Care Qual 2000; 14 (3): 28–36.
22. LeMaster KM. Reducing incidence and prevalence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers at Genesis Medical Center. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2007; 33: 611–6, 585.
23. McInerney JA. Reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcer prevalence through a focused prevention program. Adv Skin Wound Care 2008; 21: 75–8.
24. Sacharok C, Drew J. Use of a total quality management model to reduce pressure ulcer prevalence in the acute care setting. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs 1998; 25: 88–92.
25. Stausberg J, Lehmann N, Kröger K, Maier I, Schneider H, Niebel W. Interdisciplinary decubitus project. Increasing pressure ulcer rates and changes in delivery of care: a retrospective analysis at a university clinic. J Clin Nurs 2010; 19 (11-12): 1504–9.
26. Stoelting J, McKenna L, Taggart E, Mottar R, Jeffers BR, Wendler MC. Prevention of nosocomial pressure ulcers: a process improvement project. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs 2007; 34: 382–8.
27. Young J, Ernsting M, Kehoe A, Holmes K. Results of a clinician-led evidence-based task force initiative relating to pressure ulcer risk assessment and prevention. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs 2010; 37: 495–503.
28. Young ZF, Evans A, Davis J. Nosocomial pressure ulcer prevention: a successful project. J Nurs Adm 2003; 33: 380–3.
29. Abel RL, Warren K, Bean G, et al.. Quality improvement in nursing homes in Texas: results from a pressure ulcer prevention project. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2005; 6: 181–8.
30. Baier RR, Gifford DR, Lyder CH, et al.. Quality improvement for pressure ulcer care in the nursing home setting: the Northeast Pressure Ulcer Project. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2003; 4: 291–301.
31. McKeeney L. Improving pressure ulcer prevention in nursing care homes. Br J Community Nurs 2008; 13 (9): S15–6, S18, S20.
32. Rosen J, Mittal V, Degenholtz H, et al.. Ability, incentives, and management feedback: organizational change to reduce pressure ulcers in a nursing home. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2006; 7: 141–6.
33. Lyder CH, Ayello EA. Annual checkup: the CMS pressure ulcer present-on-admission indicator. Adv Skin Wound Care 2009; 22: 476–84.
34. Ayello EA. Changing systems, changing cultures: reducing pressure ulcers in hospitals. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2011; 37 (3): 120–2.
35. Dahlstrom M, Best T, Baker C, et al.. Improving identification and documentation of pressure ulcers at an urban academic hospital. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf 2011; 37 (3): 123–30.
36. Virani T, Lemieux-Charles L, Davis DA, Berta W. Sustaining change: once evidence-based practices are transferred, what then? Healthc Q 2009; 12 (1): 89–96, 2.
Keywords:© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
preventing pressure ulcers; multidisciplinary interventions to prevent pressure ulcers; reducing incidence of pressure ulcers