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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1997 Mar;52(2):M106-10.

Effect of pressure ulcers on the survival of long-term care residents.

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Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA.



Past studies have emphasized that patients with pressure ulcers are at high risk of dying. However, it remains unclear whether this increased risk is related to the ulcer or to coexisting conditions. In this study we examined the independent effect of pressure ulcers on the survival of long-term care residents.


We evaluated all 19,981 long-term care residents institutionalized in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) long-term care facilities as of April 1, 1993. Baseline resident characteristics and survival status were obtained by merging data from five existing VA data bases. Survival experience over a 6-month period was described using a proportional hazards model.


Pressure ulcers were present in 1,539 (7.7%) long-term care residents. Residents with pressure ulcers had a relative risk of 2.37 (95% CI = 2.13, 2.64) for dying as compared to those without ulcers. After adjusting for 16 other measures of clinical and functional status, the relative risk associated with pressure ulcers decreased to 1.45 (95% CI = 1.30, 1.65). No increased risk of death was noted for residents with deeper ulcers.


Pressure ulcers are a significant marker for long-term care residents at risk of dying. After adjusting for clinical and functional status, however, the independent risk associated with pressure ulcers declines considerably. The fact that larger ulcers are not associated with greater risk suggests that other unmeasured clinical conditions may also be contributing to the increased mortality associated with pressure ulcers.

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