Hospital-acquired complications – Pressure injury

A pressure injury is a sore, break or blister of the skin caused by unrelieved pressure or friction on an area of the body over a period of time. The depth of skin damage can vary from shallow to very deep. Pressure injuries can be very painful and take a long time to heal. They may also reduce a patient’s mobility.

Older people are at most risk of pressure injuries, but they can occur in any patient or in any setting, including:

  • acute areas such as operating theatres
  • during transportation to a hospital
  • intensive care units.

The majority of pressure injuries are preventable; however those at greater risk include the frail, elderly or people who have:

  • been confined to a bed or chair
  • poor bladder or bowel control
  • diabetes, poor circulation or a history of smoking
  • reduced mental awareness due to illness, medications or anaesthetics
  • poor diet or fluid intake.

Pressure injuries may impact significantly on a patient’s:

  • length of hospital stay
  • comfort and quality of life
  • cost of care and health outcomes.

Measuring hospital-acquired complications – Pressure injury

The international pressure injury classification systems provide a consistent and accurate means to communicate and document the severity of a pressure injury between clinical staff. The classification system grades these types of wounds in stages depending on:

  • changes in the patient’s skin
  • the depth of the injury
  • whether there is any fluid draining from the wound.

Healthcare commonly uses rates to measure complications such as these. The number of patients who developed one or more Stage 3 or greater pressure injuries during their hospital stay per 1,000 patient days.

How do we measure up

The graph below shows the combined inpatient pressure injury rate for the EMHS hospitals:

  • Armadale Health Service
  • Kalamunda Hospital
  • Bentley Hospital
  • Royal Perth Hospital
  • St John of God Midland Public Hospital

Chart: Rate of hospital-acquired pressure injuries.

Graph: rate of inpatients with one or more pressure injuries per 1,000 OBD

What the figures mean

The benchmark is less than or equal to 0.079 hospital-acquired pressure injuries per 1,000 patient days. A rate lower than the benchmark is desirable.

EMHS results have been better than the benchmark in all of the last 4 quarters.

Last Updated: 21/06/2022