Pa Patient Saf Advis 2015 Mar;12(1):28-36.
Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcers Remain a Top Concern for Hospitals
Emergency Medicine; Internal Medicine and Subspecialties; Nursing; Surgery
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Authors

Michelle Feil, MSN, RN, CPPS
Senior Patient Safety Analyst
Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority

Janette Bisbee, MSN, RN-BC, NHA
Education/Project Manager
Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

Corresponding Author
Michelle Feil

Abstract

Pennsylvania hospitals reported more than 19,000 pressure ulcer events to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority in 2013. Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs) are a recognized patient safety concern and meet the definition of a reportable event under the Pennsylvania Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act. Despite changes to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ inpatient prospective payment system in 2008 that established regulatory and financial incentives for hospitals to prevent HAPUs, they remain a frequently reported hospital-acquired condition. An analysis of pressure ulcers reported through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System from 2007 through 2013 suggests the need for improvement in identification of pressure ulcers present on admission; accurate staging of pressure ulcers; and prevention of HAPUs, in particular stage III, suspected deep-tissue injury, and unstageable pressure ulcers. Patient safety and quality agencies, as well as wound care specialty organizations, have established evidence-based best practices in pressure ulcer risk assessment and prevention. Hospitals that have implemented these practices, such as those participating in the Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network Pressure Ulcer Prevention project, have reported successful reductions in the incidence of HAPUs stage II or greater.

Introduction

Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPUs) are reportable events under the Pennsylvania Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act. The MCARE Act requires healthcare facilities to report events “involving the clinical care of a patient in a medical facility” that either resulted in, or had the potential to result in, “an unanticipated injury requiring the delivery of additional health care services to the patient.”1

Pressure ulcers are a frequently reported hospital-acquired condition in Pennsylvania. In 2013, Pennsylvania healthcare facilities reported 33,545 events involving impaired skin integrity to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority through its Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS). This represents the fifth most frequently reported patient safety event type, following (1) errors related to procedures, treatments, or tests, (2) medication errors, (3) complications of procedures, treatments, or tests, and (4) falls.2 The majority of impaired skin integrity events (n = 19,009, 56.7%) were hospital-reported pressure ulcers.

In December 2008, the Authority published “Pressure Ulcers: New Staging, Reporting, and Risk Reduction Strategies”3 following two important changes in pressure ulcer staging and reimbursement policies. The first change occurred in 2007 when the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) added two new pressure ulcer stages: suspected deep-tissue injury (SDTI) and unstageable (see “Pressure Ulcer Staging Guidelines”).4 PA-PSRS added these categories in June 2008.

The second change occurred in October 2008 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) modified the inpatient prospective payment system and established a list of hospital-acquired conditions subject to nonpayment.5 Prior to changes in the inpatient prospective payment system, hospitals received additional reimbursement from CMS for the care required for patients with pressure ulcers, regardless of whether the pressure ulcer was preexisting or developed in the course of hospitalization. However, effective October 1, 2008, hospitals were no longer reimbursed for stage III and IV pressure ulcers that were hospital-acquired.6

While implementation of best practices in HAPU prevention and treatment had already been established as a priority for hospitals,7 these changes brought heightened attention to the need for physicians and nurses to perform thorough skin assessments, to accurately stage and document pressure ulcers at the time of admission and throughout the course of hospitalization, and to prevent the development of HAPUs.8 The Authority analyzed events of pressure ulcers reported through PA-PSRS in order to evaluate the impact these changes may have had on pressure ulcer reporting and to identify trends in pressure ulcer reporting.

Methods

Analysts queried the PA-PSRS database for events of pressure ulcers reported over seven calendar years, from 2007 through 2013; events were categorized both by time of acquisition and pressure ulcer stage.

Three options exist for indicating the time of acquisition when entering pressure ulcer reports in PA-PSRS: “admitted from other facility with ulcer,” “new ulcer <24 hours after admission,” and “new ulcer >24 hours after admission.” Six options exist for indicating the pressure ulcer stage: I, II, III, IV, SDTI, or unstageable. Of note, time of pressure ulcer acquisition is a mandatory field in PA-PSRS, while pressure ulcer stage is not.

Additionally, pressure ulcer event reports, as with all event reports, may be submitted through PA-PSRS as Incidents (i.e., events resulting in no harm to the patient) or Serious Events (i.e., events resulting in harm). Those events reported as Incidents may be reported via direct manual entry or via an interface mapped to PA-PSRS from an event reporting system within a hospital. Serious Events may only be reported via direct manual entry.

Analysts reviewed the pressure ulcer event reports according to (1) time of pressure ulcer acquisition reported for all events, (2) pressure ulcer stage and level of harm reported for all events, and (3) stage reported for all pressure ulcers identified as “new ulcer >24 hours after admission.”

Results

Pressure Ulcer Reporting and Time of Acquisition

Figure 1 shows the number of pressure ulcers and the time of pressure ulcer acquisition reported through PA-PSRS from 2007 through 2013. The total number of reports increased from 2007 through 2009, with the largest increase of 39.2% having occurred from 2007 to 2008, concurrent with the addition of 10 reporting hospitals. Total pressure ulcer event reports decreased 10.0% in recent years, from a high of 21,120 in 2009 to 19,009 in 2013. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, there was a 5.9% decrease.

Figure 1. Pressure Ulcer Events Reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, by Time of Acquisition, 2007 through 2013

 MS14677.jpg

Analysis revealed that nearly 30% of pressure ulcers across the seven-year period were reported as “new ulcer >24 hours after admission,” a percentage that has remained relatively stable over time. An interesting phenomenon occurred between 2011 and 2012, when there was a decrease in the number and percentage of pressure ulcers reported as present on admission from another facility concurrent with a more than fourfold increase in the number and percentage of pressure ulcers reported as being “new ulcer <24 hours after admission.” In 2013 the number of pressure ulcers reported as “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” decreased somewhat, but the reported volume was notably greater than in years prior to 2012.

The increase in pressure ulcers reported as “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” seen between 2011 and 2012 occurred at the same time as when large increases were seen in the number of pressure ulcer events reported as Incidents, via interface, at less than 10 acute care hospitals in the state. Closer examination of report narratives suggests that this increase may be the result of reporting pressure ulcers present on admission (i.e., not hospital-acquired and therefore not reportable under the MCARE Act) using the “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” designation in PA-PSRS. Other potential contributing factors identified from analysis of report narratives included failure to identify pressure ulcers present on admission, missing or inadequate pressure ulcer risk assessment, and missing or inadequate implementation of pressure ulcer prevention measures.

Staging and Level of Harm for All Reported Pressure Ulcers

The number of pressure ulcers reported as stage I has increased in recent years, while the number of pressure ulcers reported as stages II, III, and IV increased between 2007 and 2009, then decreased through 2013 (see Figure 2). Between 2009 and 2013, there was a 30.1% decrease in reports of stage II pressure ulcers, a 31.1% decrease in reports of stage III pressure ulcers, and a 55.3% decrease in reports of stage IV pressure ulcers.

(Online Only) Figure 2. Pressure Ulcer Events Reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, by Stage, 2007 through 2013

 

The first full year in which SDTI and unstageable were included as stages in PA-PSRS was 2009. Although the number of pressure ulcers reported for each of these stages has varied from year to year, between 2009 and 2013, there was a 50.7% increase in the number reported as SDTI and a 19.0% decrease in the number reported as unstageable.

Of note, each year, approximately one-third of pressure ulcers reports were submitted without staging information, ranging from 29.4% in 2007 (n = 3,980 of 13,525 total pressure ulcer reports) to 41.0% in 2011 (n = 8,633 of 21,079 total pressure ulcer reports).

The majority of pressure ulcer events reported through PA-PSRS from 2007 through 2013 were reported as Incidents (see Figure 3). This holds true across all reported pressure ulcer stages. For example, in 2013, 97.1% (8,841 of 9,108) of all reported stage I and II pressure ulcers were labeled as Incidents. In the same year, 91.0% (3,270 of 3,592) of all reported stage III, IV, SDTI, and unstageable pressure ulcers were labeled as Incidents.

Figure 3. Pressure Ulcer Events Reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, by Level of Harm, 2007 through 2013

 MS14679.jpg

Staging of Pressure Ulcers Acquired More Than 24 Hours after Admission

Because pressure ulcers reported through PA-PSRS as “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” contained reports of pressure ulcers that may have been present on admission, analysts undertook a separate analysis of pressure ulcers reported as “new ulcer >24 hours after admission” to obtain a more accurate assessment of HAPUs being acquired within Pennsylvania hospitals. Figure 4 shows a decrease from 2007 through 2013 in the number of these HAPUs reported as stages I, II, or IV, while the number reported as stage III remained relatively unchanged. Again, using 2009 as a baseline, the number of these HAPUs reported as SDTI and unstageable increased through 2013.

(Online Only) Figure 4. Pressure Ulcer Events Reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, by Stage, 2007 through 2013

 

 

Similar to reports of all pressure ulcers, regardless of time of occurrence, about one-third of reports of pressure ulcers labeled “new ulcer >24 hours after admission” did not include staging information.

Discussion

Through analysis of pressure ulcer events reported through PA-PSRS from 2007 through 2013, the Authority identified changes in pressure ulcer reporting perhaps influenced by the addition of SDTI and unstageable as new pressure ulcer stages in PA-PSRS as well as modifications to the CMS payment system, both of which occurred in 2008. The 10.0% decrease in the number of pressure ulcer event reports from 2009 to 2013 is encouraging; however, it is too soon to tell whether this represents a downward trend that will continue.

HAPUs acquired less than 24 hours after admission. The increase seen in the number and percentage of pressure ulcers reported as “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” (see Figure 1) suggests that hospitals need to closely examine protocols for skin inspection and pressure ulcer prevention that are part of the admission process. Because pressure ulcers can develop within as few as two to six hours,9,10 especially in critically ill patients, it is vital that nurses and other healthcare professionals assess risk and implement preventive measures as quickly as possible upon admission.

Additionally, it appears that some hospitals may utilize their internal reporting systems to capture reports of pressure ulcers that are community-acquired and present on admission. Some of these reports may have been mapped via the interface, and submitted through PA-PSRS, as “new ulcer <24 hours after admission” when in fact these are not HAPUs and do not need to be reported under the MCARE Act.1 Hospitals are encouraged to look more closely at what pressure ulcer event reports are being submitted through PA-PSRS, either manually or via electronic interface, and to ensure that only HAPUs are being reported.

HAPUs acquired more than 24 hours after admission. It is encouraging that the number of pressure ulcers reported as “new ulcer >24 hours after admission” has decreased in recent years. However, more information is needed to know whether this is a true decrease in the incidence of HAPUs in Pennsylvania hospitals. Despite this apparent improvement, these pressure ulcers continue to represent approximately 30% of all pressure ulcer events reported to the Authority, and the number of these HAPUs being reported at deeper stages of tissue damage (i.e., unstageable and SDTI) has increased (see Figure 4). Hospitals are encouraged to examine this issue more closely and to gather more information on possible causes and opportunities for process improvements. Increased patient acuity and illness severity may also be considerations; while the majority of HAPUs are considered preventable, some pressure ulcers may be unavoidable, particularly in the critically ill11-13 or patients who are dying.14

Pressure ulcer staging. Staging information is missing in approximately one out of three PA-PSRS pressure ulcer event reports (see Figures 2 and 4). It is not clear whether this correlates with missing documentation of pressure ulcer staging in the medical record. Appropriate staging information may help clinicians provide patients with appropriate wound care and take action when progression to deeper stages of tissue damage is recognized. Missing documentation of staging may also negatively impact reimbursement. Several organizations offer resources that address clinician education and pressure ulcer staging competency, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),15 ConvaTec,16 the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators,17 and NPUAP.4

Incidents versus Serious Events. By definition, pressure ulcers are the result of damage to the skin and its underlying structures; however, the majority of HAPUs are reported through PA-PSRS as Incidents. The reasons for this are not clear from the reports. As outlined in the MCARE Act, an Incident is defined as “an event, occurrence or situation involving the clinical care of a patient in a medical facility which could have injured the patient but did not either cause an unanticipated injury or require the delivery of additional health care services to the patient.”1 In light of this definition, and because HAPUs typically require the delivery of additional healthcare services, it is suggested that hospitals reconsider the level of harm assigned to these event reports. Further investigation and establishment of criteria to delineate HAPUs reportable as Serious Events is warranted.

Pennsylvania Hospitals Collaborating to Reduce HAPUs

The Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network (PA-HEN) Pressure Ulcer Prevention (PUP) project has reported success in reducing HAPUs. Led by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), these hospitals have been working collaboratively since 2012 to increase implementation of best practices in pressure ulcer prevention and decrease the incidence of HAPUs. See “Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network Pressure Ulcer Prevention Project” for more details and for links to free resources developed by HAP to assist hospitals in implementing best practices in pressure ulcer prevention.

Risk Reduction Strategies

Evidence-based pressure ulcer prevention guidelines have been developed by several patient safety and quality agencies, such as AHRQ,15 the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing,18 the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement,19 and the National Quality Forum,20 as well as wound care specialty organizations, such as the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society21 and NPUAP.22 See “Evidence-Based Pressure Ulcer Prevention Guidelines” for a list of these guidelines along with links for accessing them.

The following are strategies based upon these guidelines that hospitals can use to improve identification and reporting of HAPUs, as well as to prevent their occurrence:

  • Consult evidence-based guidelines in developing a pressure ulcer prevention program (see “Evidence-Based Pressure Ulcer Prevention Guidelines”).
  • Establish an interdisciplinary team with defined roles and responsibilities to develop and oversee a pressure ulcer prevention program.15,19
  • Identify clinicians with pressure ulcer prevention and wound care expertise to serve as a resource for staff and to provide ongoing pressure ulcer prevention education, including with regard to accurate pressure ulcer staging.15
  • Consider developing a team of unit-based champions to engage staff and support ongoing pressure ulcer prevention efforts.16
  • Perform a pressure ulcer risk assessment for all patients upon admission using a validated risk assessment tool such as the Braden scale.15,18-22  
  • Reevaluate pressure ulcer risk daily and with changes in level of care or changes in condition.15,18-22
  • Perform a head-to-toe skin inspection for all patients upon admission, and document any alteration in skin color, temperature, texture, turgor, consistency, or moisture.15,18-22
  • Repeat a head-to-toe skin assessment every 8 to 24 hours, depending on the clinical condition of the patient. Patients at high risk for pressure ulcer formation and those who are critically ill may require more frequent assessments.15,18-22
  • Establish a pressure ulcer prevention plan, targeted to the patient’s identified risk factors, that aims to
    • minimize or eliminate friction and shear,
    • minimize pressure with off-loading and support surfaces,
    • manage moisture, and
    • maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.15,18,19,21,22
  • Document and communicate the results of the pressure ulcer risk assessment, skin assessments, and the pressure ulcer prevention plan to all members of the healthcare team.15,18-20,22
  • Provide ongoing education to the patient, family, and all members of the healthcare team regarding pressure ulcer prevention and treatment.15,18-20,22
  • Establish a protocol for clearly and consistently documenting and reporting pressure ulcers present on admission and those that are hospital-acquired.15,19
  • Monitor compliance with pressure ulcer prevention practices through auditing of process measures (e.g., percentage of patients with documentation of a risk assessment and skin inspection within six hours of admission, percentage of at-risk patients with an appropriate pressure reduction surface in place).15,19,20
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the pressure ulcer prevention program through ongoing monitoring of outcome measures. Recommended measures include prevalence rates (i.e., the number of patients with pressure ulcers at a certain point or period in time) and incidence rates (i.e., the number of patients developing HAPUs during a period in time).15,19,20
  • Investigate every occurrence of stage III and stage IV pressure ulcers to (1) identify systems failures and other factors contributing to the occurrence of these pressure ulcers and (2) identify opportunities for improvement. Root-cause analysis may be a useful technique to accomplish this task.15

Limitations

Detailed analysis of HAPUs occurring in Pennsylvania hospitals is limited by the information reported through PA-PSRS, which, by itself, cannot be used to calculate prevalence or incidence rates for HAPUs. Analysis of event report data reveals variation in pressure ulcer reporting practices among hospitals in Pennsylvania. Because of these limitations, decreases in the number of HAPUs reported through PA-PSRS or changes in the number of HAPUs reported at various times of acquisition or pressure ulcer stages may or may not represent improvements in pressure ulcer prevention practices or patient care results.

Conclusion

Pressure ulcer prevention remains a priority for hospitals because of identification of HAPUs as a measure of patient safety and quality of care, the establishment of regulatory and financial incentives for HAPU prevention, and the impact of HAPUs on patients. HAPUs meet the definition of a reportable event under the MCARE Act. Analysis suggests that Pennsylvania hospitals have room for improvement in identification of pressure ulcers present on admission; accurate staging of pressure ulcers; and prevention of HAPUs, in particular stage III, SDTI, and unstageable HAPUs.

Accurate staging and reporting of pressure ulcers provides data that can be trended over time to help hospitals assess the effectiveness of their current pressure ulcer prevention protocols and design and monitor the progress of quality improvement efforts. Hospitals, such as those participating in the PA-HEN PUP project, have demonstrated that the incidence of HAPUs can be successfully reduced through collaboration and implementation of evidence-based best practices in pressure ulcer prevention.

Acknowledgments

Edward Finley, BS, data analyst, Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, contributed to data acquisition and analysis for this article.

Notes

  1. 2002 Pa. Laws 154, No. 13. Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act. Also available at https://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/document/495911/hb1802_pdf
  2. Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority 2013 annual report [online]. 2014 Apr 30 [cited 2014 Jun 6]. http://patientsafetyauthority.org/PatientSafetyAuthority/Documents/Annual%20Report%202013.pdf
  3. Pressure ulcers: new staging, reporting, and risk reduction strategies. Pa Patient Saf Advis [online] 2008 Dec [cited 2014 Jun 9]. http://patientsafetyauthority.org/ADVISORIES/AdvisoryLibrary/2008/Dec5(4)/Pages/118.aspx
  4. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. NPUAP pressure ulcer stages/categories [online]. [cited 2014 Jun 9]. http://www.npuap.org/resources/educational-and-clinical-resources/npuap-pressure-ulcer-stagescategories
  5. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Hospital-acquired conditions [online]. [cited 2014 Jun 6]. http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HospitalAcqCond/Hospital-Acquired_Conditions.html
  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Final changes to the hospital inpatient prospective payment systems and fiscal year 2009 rates. Fed Regist 2008 Aug 19;73(161):48474-9083. Also available at http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HospitalAcqCond/HAC-Regulations-and-Notices-Items/CMS1252755.html?DLPage=1&DLSort=3&DLSortDir=ascending
  7. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Pressure ulcers in adults: prediction and prevention. Clinical Practice Guideline no. 3. AHCPR Publication No. 92-0047. Rockville (MD): US Department of Health and Human Services; 1992 May.
  8. Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society. Inpatient prospective payment changes: a guide for the WOC nurse [press release online]. 2009 Mar 13 [cited 2014 Jun 9]. http://www.wocn.org/news/67092/Inpatient-Prospective-Payment-Changes-A-Guide-for-the-WOC-Nurse.htm
  9. Kosiak M, Kubicek WG, Olson M, et al. Evaluation of pressure as a factor in the production of ischial ulcers. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1958 Oct;39(10):623-9.
  10. Kosiak M. Etiology and pathology of ischemic ulcers. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1959 Feb;40(2):62-9.
  11. Edsberg LE, Langemo D, Baharestani MM, et al. Unavoidable pressure injury: state of the science and consensus outcomes. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs 2014 Jul-Aug;41(4):313-34.
  12. Black JM, Edsberg LE, Baharestani MM, et al. Pressure ulcers: avoidable or unavoidable? Results of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel Consensus Conference. Ostomy Wound Manage 2011 Feb;57(2):24-37.
  13. Campbell C, Parish LC. The decubitus ulcer: facts and controversies. Clin Dermatol 2010 Sep-Oct;28(5):527-32.
  14. Sibbald RG, Krasner DL, Lutz JB, et al. The SCALE Expert Panel: skin changes at life’s end: final consensus document [online]. 2009 Oct [cited 2014 Nov 3]. http://www.epuap.org/scale-skin-changes-at-lifes-end
  15. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Preventing pressure ulcers in hospitals: a toolkit for improving quality of care [online]. 2011 Apr [cited 2014 Jun 19]. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/long-term-care/resources/pressure-ulcers/pressureulcertoolkit/index.html
  16. ConvaTec Academy. Pressure ulcer prevention and management [educational module online]. [cited 2014 Jun 19]. http://convatec.eol1.com/CourseOverview.aspx?i=17065ABE-F94B-4A1E-A85F-7F4A0A5D1EDB 
  17. National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators. Pressure ulcer training [training program online]. [cited 2014 Jun 19]. https://members.nursingquality.org/NDNQIPressureUlcerTraining 
  18. Ayello EA, Sibbald RG. Preventing pressure ulcers and skin tears [online]. Chapter 16. In: Boltz M, Capezuti E, Fulmer T, et al., eds. Evidence-based geriatric nursing protocols for best practice. 4th ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 2012: 298-323.
  19. Perry D, Borchert K, Burke S, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Pressure ulcer prevention and treatment protocol [online]. 2012 Jan [cited 2014 Aug 21]. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_patient_safetyreliability_guidelines/pressure_ulcer
  20. Safe practice 27: pressure ulcer prevention. In: National Quality Forum. Safe practices for better healthcare—2010 update: a consensus report [online]. 2010 [cited 2014 Aug 22]. http://www.qualityforum.org/Publications/2010/04/Safe_Practices_for_Better_Healthcare_ –_2010_Update.aspx
  21. Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society. Guideline for prevention and management of pressure ulcers [online]. 2010 Jun 1 [cited 2014 Aug 22]. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=23868 
  22. National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. Pressure ulcer prevention recommendations. In: Prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers: clinical practice guideline [online]. 2009 [cited 2014 Aug 22]. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=24492

Pressure Ulcer Staging Guidelines

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel pressure ulcer staging system is the system most frequently used in the United States to classify pressure ulcers.

Four original stages were identified in 1989:

  • Stage I: Localized non-blanchable erythema of intact skin, usually over a bony prominence.
  • Stage II: Partial thickness loss of tissue presenting as a fluid-filled blister or a shallow crater with a red wound base, free of slough.
  • Stage III: Full thickness tissue loss extending to the subcutaneous tissue; slough may be present but does not obscure the wound base.
  • Stage IV: Full thickness tissue loss extending to muscle or bone; slough or necrotic tissue may be present.

Two new stages were added in 2007:

  • Suspected deep-tissue injury: Localized purple or maroon discoloration of intact skin, or a blood blister, caused by damage to the underlying soft tissue. This wound may evolve rapidly to a stage III or IV pressure ulcer, even when optimal care is provided.
  • Unstageable: Full thickness loss of tissue that cannot be staged because necrotic tissue obscures the full depth of the wound. Once necrotic tissue is removed, these ulcers will be staged as either stage III or IV.

Source: National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. NPUAP pressure ulcer stages/categories [online]. [cited 2014 Jun 9]. http://www.npuap.org/resources/educational-and-clinical-resources/npuap-pressure-ulcer-stagescategories  


Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network Pressure Ulcer Prevention Project*

The Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network (PA-HEN) Pressure Ulcer Prevention (PUP) project is a collaborative project led by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) targeted at reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPU) by 40% by the end of calendar year 2014. Twenty-four hospitals joined the collaboration in 2012, and as of June 2014, 18 continued to participate. Members of the collaboration seek to decrease rates of HAPUs by increasing implementation of best practices in pressure ulcer prevention.
_______________
* The analyses upon which this publication is based were in part funded and performed under contract number HHSM-500-2012-00022C, entitled “Hospital Engagement Contractor for Partnership for Patients Initiative.”
Project Interventions

Interventions implemented by the HAP project leadership team and hospitals participating in the collaboration were varied and multifaceted.

HAP Project Leadership Team Interventions
  • Formed an advisory group of skin care experts to offer guidance in program design, provide ongoing support, and ensure adherence to evidence-based best practices in pressure ulcer prevention
  • Established a team of “skin care safety advisors,” trained in analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (i.e., SWOT analysis) and tracer methodology, who conducted on-site hospital visits and worked collaboratively with the hospital staff to analyze current pressure ulcer prevention initiatives and develop action plans for improvement
  • Designed robust webinars and in-person educational programs provided by expert faculty
  • Developed and distributed the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Resource Guide
  • Encouraged hospitals to incorporate patient and family engagement best practices in their work, and provided access to tools, documents, educational events, and the PA-HEN/HAP patient and family guidebook
  • Provided opportunities for hospital skin care teams and project leaders to share information and receive feedback through the following:
    • Networking calls open to all project participants
    • One-on-one coaching calls, conducted by the project manager, with individual hospital skin care teams
    • Utilization of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Knowledge Exchange (PassKey) website, a secure, collaborative workspace for sharing project information and tools such as an education calendar, shared documents, links to applicable skin care sites, educational materials, and a library of past webinars and networking calls
  • Collected, analyzed, and distributed actionable data as a means to drive improvement
  • Identified and paired mentor with mentee hospitals, and utilized peer-to-peer learning to close gaps on performance and foster improvements
Hospital Interventions
  • Developed individual hospital multidisciplinary skin care teams who implemented project tools, education, and training
  • Designated hospital “skin care champions” who advocated for the project at the unit level and mobilized and motivated staff
  • Completed a comprehensive self-assessment survey, which was utilized to create action plans and tailor educational content
  • Participated in networking and coaching calls, in-person educational events, and on-site visits from skin care safety advisors
  • Shared tools and best practices with other collaboration project members
  • Collected and submitted monthly data on process and outcome measures
  • Served as mentor or mentee hospitals

Of note, an important tenet of the PA-HEN PUP project has been the involvement of the bedside nurse and other direct care providers. On two separate instances, webinars directed to unlicensed direct care providers resulted in the highest attendance numbers for any PUP project webinars. Many hospitals provide “lunch and learn” educational events for their direct care providers during PA-HEN PUP webinars or use archived webinars for orientation and ongoing educational purposes.

Hospitals participating in the project work together in a spirit of collaboration by sharing pressure ulcer prevention practices and tools (e.g., policies and procedures, documents, forms, toolkits) and recounting experiences in working to prevent HAPUs, presenting success stories as well as challenges and opportunities for improvement. Hospitals report great benefit from this networking opportunity and celebrate the camaraderie that arises from working together toward a common goal.

We have implemented some great things with the PA-HEN and are focusing on how we can maintain our improved rate decrease in HAPUs. Our current focus is considering the purchase of new pressure-reduction surfaces and looking at ways to educate and engage patients and their families. It is my hope that we continue to make strides in preventing pressure ulcers!

— Barbara Gregory, team leader for Wayne Memorial Hospital

I am eagerly putting together my wound care team with a diverse group of passionate individuals which include performance improvement professionals, the patient experience director, nutritionist, registered nurses, non-licensed professionals, and a physical therapist. I hope to have as many people as possible attend educational events, although I am aware that a few will be working and I am grateful that they can access it afterwards. WOCNs [wound ostomy continence nurses] in our hospital often feel like we float on a lonely dinghy in the sea. It’s nice to be part of a network! This is so exciting! Thanks for everything!

— Charissa Carfrey, team leader for Roxborough Hospital, which joined the PA-HEN PUP project in 2014

Data and Results

All PA-HEN hospitals, regardless of PUP program participation, are evaluated using Medicare PSI-03 data to calculate the incidence rate of stage III and IV HAPUs per 1,000 Medicare patient discharges. PA-HEN hospitals, as a group, achieved a 62.7% reduction in this rate, from a baseline of 0.51 in 2011 to 0.19 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

In addition, hospitals participating in the PUP project are required to self-report incidence rates of pressure ulcers, stage II or greater, per 1,000 patient-days. PUP project hospitals achieved a 41.7% decrease in this rate, from a baseline of 2.04 in the third quarter of 2012 to 1.19 in the third quarter of 2014.

While quarterly data reveals fluctuation and variability with the rate over time, hospitals report being able to move the needle steadily toward achievement in reduction of HAPUs by the prompt implementation of pressure ulcer prevention interventions for patients deemed at highest risk for ulcer development. Improvements noted are largely felt to be attributed to heightened awareness and the leveraging, sharing, and implementation of interventions and strategies from the project.

Looking Ahead

The PA-HEN PUP project has evolved from a unit-level, nurse-driven initiative to a statewide, hospital-based, multidisciplinary initiative to prevent HAPUs. In addition, HAP has offered PA-HEN hospitals that are not members of the PUP project access to educational events and other project resources such as the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Resource Guide and the PA-HEN/HAP patient and family guidebook (see HAP Project Leadership Team Interventions above), as well as on-site visits by the skin care safety advisors. Looking ahead, the PA-HEN PUP project continues to focus on spread and sustainability, with a goal of decreased rates of HAPUs for patients in all Pennsylvania hospitals.

Hospitals interested in learning more about the PA-HEN PUP project can contact HAP at (717) 564-9200


Evidence-Based Pressure Ulcer Prevention Guidelines

The following guidelines are available to assist hospitals in developing pressure ulcer prevention programs:

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