NUI Galway researchers Professor Caroline McIntosh and Dr Georgina Gethin are linking up with the Western Branch of the Wound Management Association of Ireland, UCHG, Community nursing services HSE West to raise awareness of pressure ulcers and their prevention. As part of ‘Worldwide Stop Pressure Ulcer Day’ on Thursday, 21 November, information sessions and workshops will be available in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway from 1-2pm and in the foyer of UCHG all day.
Students of NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and Discipline of Podiatry along with the wound management association of Ireland western branch have been awarded a grant from EXPLORE grant scheme in NUI Galway to develop information leaflets for patients, families and carers to raise awareness and help in prevention. This project will run over the next year and will be of strategic importance as it engages future generations of health professionals, researchers, and voluntary organisations and will tap into the creativity and enthusiasm of these students for the benefit of all.
What are pressure ulcers?
A pressure ulcer or bed sore is not just a short term problem, it can cause immense suffering, inconvenience, reduced quality of life and in some cases death and are extremely costly and time consuming to treat. Pressure ulcers, first recorded in Egyptian mummies, are still a problem today despite significant advances in healthcare, increased technology, more complex surgeries and increased survivorship from major traumas. Much can still be done to prevent them, including raising awareness, increased education and the use of modern technology and equipment.
A pressure ulcer, also called a pressure sore or bed sore, is localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear. The term bed sore is misleading as it implies that the development of sores or ulcers is limited to those confined to bed. However, anyone with limited or restricted mobility is at risk and this risk increases if they become acutely ill, if they cannot feel their skin is under pressure or from a variety of other factors.
The changing profile of the population with people living longer but also with increased prevalence of chronic disease, increased prevalence of diabetes and obesity means that the risk of pressure ulcers will remain well into the future.
The costs of pressure ulcers
There are no European wide estimates of the total cost of pressure ulcer prevention and treatment. Within specific countries the high cost of pressure ulcers has been identified. In the Netherlands, 1% of all health care expenditure was calculated to be spent on pressure ulcer care.
In the UK national the cost of pressure ulcers to the NHS is between £1,760 million and £2,640 million each year, making pressure ulcers the single most costly chronic wound to the Health Service.