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Keywords:

  • intensive care units;
  • nursing assessment;
  • nursing workload;
  • pressure ulcer;
  • safety;
  • severity of illness index

Aims and objective.  To verify association between PU development with nursing workload and illness severity and to verify whether nursing workload and illness severity are related with Braden Scale scores.

Background.  Critically ill patients are more susceptible to treatment complications because of the severity of their clinical condition.

Design.  Prospective descriptive study.

Methods.  Patients consecutively admitted to three intensive care units (ICUs) of a public university hospital located in Sao Paulo, Brazil and without pressure ulcer (PU) at admission and a minimum stay of 24 hours were included in the sample. Prospective data collection included demographic, clinical and hospitalisation data, Nursing Activities Score (NAS), Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPSII) and Braden Scale. Multivariate linear regression analysis was applied to verify whether nursing workload and illness severity are related with Braden Scale scores. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to verify whether nursing workload and illness severity were risk factors associated with PU development.

Results.  The study sample included 160 patients. The mean Braden score was 12·0 and PU incidence was 34·4%. Multivariate linear regression analysis identified as factors related to variation of Braden scores: illness severity (SAPSII), nursing workload (NAS) and age. Multivariate logistic regression showed a model with risk factors associated with PU development: sex, length of ICU stay, illness severity and nursing workload.

Conclusion.  Nursing workload, severity of illness, sex and length of ICU stay were identified as risk factors associated with PU development. However, nursing workload acted as a protective factor. Illness severity, nursing workload and age were related to Braden scores.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Accurate identification of risk factors and the use of clinical judgment in skin assessment are prerequisites for determining appropriate strategies to prevent pressure ulcers, to improve quality of care for patient safety and to reduce length of ICU and hospital stay and costs.