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Aust Crit Care. 2001 Feb;14(1):24-30.

Pressure sores in intensive care: defining their incidence and associated factors and assessing the utility of two pressure sore risk assessment tools.

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  • 1Intensive Care Unit, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW.


Patients in intensive care units (ICU) are at high risk of developing pressure sores and the use of pressure sore risk tools has been advocated as a means of identifying patients at risk. A prospective multi-site observational study was conducted to define the incidence of pressure sores, assess two pressure sore risk scales and to define risk factors relevant to intensive care. Patients (n = 534) were assessed for the presence of pressure sores. The Waterlow and Jackson/Cubbin risk scales were completed each day for 314 and 188 of these patients respectively. A total of 75 pressure sores were recorded. Of these, 34 were present on admission. Of the remaining 41, 16 were classified as Grade 1 and 24 as Grade 2 sores. The pressure sore (PS) incidence was 5.2 per cent. Expressed as PS/1000 patient days there were 18.48 pressure sores per 1000 patient days. The ability of the risk scores to predict pressure sores was tested using a Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis. The association of risk score with pressure sores was analysed using a survival function (Kaplan Meier) and variables compared using a logrank test (Mantel-Cox). Factors associated with pressure sore occurrence were developed and tested using a survival regression model. Both risk scales were poor predictors of pressure sores (ROC curve area approximately 70 per cent for both). The factors, coma/unresponsiveness/paralysed & sedated and cardiovascular instability were significantly associated with pressure sores with relative risks of 4.2 and 2.5 respectively. Risk increased as a function of time such that the cumulative risk was 50 per cent at 20 days.

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