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Pressure Ulcer: prevention protocols and prevalence


Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Institut für Medizin
Pflegepädagogik und Pflegewissenschaft
Charitéplatz 1
10117 Berlin


Aims and objectives  The aim of this paper is to analyse the protocols used in German hospitals and nursing homes for the prevention of pressure ulcers with regard to their contents and accordance with the national standard of the Deutsches Netzwerk für Qualitätsentwicklung in der Pflege (DNQP) and the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) guidelines. Additionally, it is to show the relation between the existence and contents of the protocols of pressure ulcer prevention and pressure ulcer prevalence in the institutions.

Methods  On a fixed date trained nursing staff gathers data regarding the frequency of pressure ulcers during a prevalence survey. The existence of a pressure ulcer is established by physical examination after the risk assessment with the Braden-Scale. The patient’s or resident’s informed consent is a precondition for his or her participation in the survey. The protocols are available as hard copies on paper or electronic files.

Results  Only two out of the 21 protocols developed in-house are completely concurrent with the expert standard. The EPUAP and RCN guidelines include the aspect of training and further education that is missing in the in-house protocols and the DNQP expert standard. Evaluation of the data reveals that there is no relation between the availability of protocols and pressure ulcer prevalence. Neither is there any relation between the contents and pressure ulcer prevalence. The institutions currently developing protocols have the lowest prevalence rates.

Conclusion  It is obvious that, while developing in-house protocols, the discussion about pressure ulcer prevention has led to a higher problem awareness in nurses and thus to an increased attentiveness in daily nursing practice which then results in improved outcomes. Two years after its publication, the expert standard is still not very well known, therefore this concentrated form of the most up-to-date knowledge is not available to all nursing staff as a basis for evidence-based practice. In addition, the sometimes outdated knowledge of nursing staff impedes the implementation of evidence-based practice guidelines. A systematic implementation strategy that assists guidelines being applied in practice is therefore required.