Pressure ulcers are an injury that damages skin and the layer(s) of tissue beneath, which have been exposed to pressure (NHS, 2014). They can occur in patients of varied ages; however, the most vulnerable age group who are at risk of developing pressure ulcers are patients aged 75 and above (Hope, 2014). Elderly patients tend to have co-morbidities due to the ageing process, which can sometimes leave them with limited mobility or bedridden and this then can put them at further risk of developing pressure ulcers (Jaul, 2010). Due to having a growing elderly population, it is extremely important to address the risks of pressure ulcers. There is no particular environment in which pressure ulcers occur, as they are a concern in all settings where social care is being provided, medical treatments are carried out – including private homes. This paper will review the evidence regarding the risks and management of pressure ulcers. The focus of this paper will be elderly patients and the following topics will be discussed; risk assessment, patient assessment, pressure recognition and removal, non-surgical treatments/advice, complications of pressure ulcers and surgery.
On recognition of a pressure ulcer or the possibility of one developing on a patient, a suitably trained health or medical professional should do a documented risk assessment (NICE, 2014). This risk assessment should cover two interlinking areas, ‘risk factors’ and ‘signs/symptoms’. It is important to assess an elderly patient’s current health status and not just the status of their health as documented previously on records or on admittance to see a professional, as a variety of factors can affect the development of a pressure ulcer – some factors more rapidly than others. Questioning into previous medical history and also looking at previous medical notes is often very informative and usually allows the professional to know of any co-morbidity which could present a further risk or act as an indirect cause of the development of a pressure ulcer. Diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders are often flagged up on assessments as a factor which can impact a pressure ulcer (Benbow, 2012)