Pressure ulcers: Avoidable or unavoidable? Results of the national pressure ulcer advisory panel consensus conference


Natural Sciences

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Ostomy Wound Management

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Although pressure ulcer (PrU) development is now generally considered an indicator for quality of care, questions and concerns about situations in which they are unavoidable remain. Considering the importance of this issue and the lack of available research data, in 2010 the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) hosted a multidisciplinary conference to establish consensus on whether there are individuals in whom pressure ulcer development may be unavoidable and whether a difference exists between end-of-life skin changes and pressure ulcers. Thirty-four stakeholder organizations from various disciplines were identified and invited to send a voting representative. Of those, 24 accepted the invitation. Before the conference, existing literature was identified and shared via a webinar. A NPUAP task force developed standardized consensus questions for items with none or limited evidence and an interactive protocol was used to develop consensus among conference delegates and attendees. Consensus was established to be 80% agreement among conference delegates. Unanimous consensus was achieved for the following statements: most PrUs are avoidable; not all PrUs are avoidable; there are situations that render PrU development unavoidable, including hemodynamic instability that is worsened with physical movement and inability to maintain nutrition and hydration status and the presence of an advanced directive prohibiting artificial nutrition/hydration; pressure redistribution surfaces cannot replace turning and repositioning; and if enough pressure was removed from the external body the skin cannot always survive. Consensus was not obtained on the practicality or standard of turning patients every 2 hours nor on concerns surrounding the use of medical devices vis-à-vis their potential to cause skin damage. Research is needed to examine these issues, refine preventive practices in challenging situations, and identify the limits of prevention.


consensus conference, pressure ulcer, preventability, prevention

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