Pressure Sore Facts & Statistics
The following information about pressure sores (bedsores, pressure injuries, pressure ulcers) is taken directly from the Mayo Clinic and the US Department of Health and Human Services websites.
Facts About Pressure Sores
Pressure sores, also known as bedsores, pressure injuries, and pressure ulcers, are caused by pressure against the skin and underlying tissue that limits blood flow to the skin and nearby tissues. Other factors related to limited mobility can make the skin vulnerable to damage and contribute to the development of pressure sores. Three primary contributing factors are:
- Sustained pressure. When your skin and the underlying tissues are trapped between bone and a surface, such as a wheelchair or a bed, the pressure may be greater than the pressure of the blood flowing in the tiny vessels (capillaries) that deliver oxygen and other nutrients to tissues. Without these essential nutrients, skin cells and tissues are damaged and may eventually die.
- Friction. Friction is the resistance to motion. It may occur when the skin is dragged across a surface, such as when you change position or a care provider moves you. The friction may be even greater if the skin is moist. Friction may make fragile skin more vulnerable to injury.
- Shear. Shear occurs when two surfaces move in the opposite direction. For example, when a hospital bed is elevated at the head, you can slide down in bed. As the tailbone moves down, the skin over the bone may stay in place – essentially pulling in the opposite direction. This motion may injure tissue and blood vessels, making the site more vulnerable to damage from sustained pressure.
Pressure Sore Statistics
The following statistics on pressure sores are taken from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Number of People Affected: 2.5 million patients per year. In 2004 according to the CDC, 159,000 nursing home residents had pressure sores.
Cost: Pressure ulcers cost $9.1-$11.6 billion per year in the US. Cost of individual patient care ranges from $20,900 to 151,700 per pressure ulcer. Medicare estimated in 2007 that each pressure ulcer added $43,180 in costs to a hospital stay.
Lawsuits: More than 17,000 lawsuits are related to pressure ulcers annually. It is the second most common claim after wrongful death, and greater than falls or emotional distress.
Pain: Pressure ulcers may be associated with severe pain.
Death: About 60,000 patients die as a direct result of a pressure ulcer each year. This translates to 6.85 deaths every hour of every single day.