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Contempo Updates
Clinician's Corner
January 8, 2003

Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Management

JAMA. 2003;289(2):223-226. doi:10.1001/jama.289.2.223

Pressure ulcers remain a common problem in all health care settings. It is estimated that 1.3 million to 3 million adults have a pressure ulcer, with an estimated cost of $500 to $40 000 to heal each ulcer.1,2 The incidence of pressure ulcers varies greatly by clinical setting. Incidence rates of 0.4% to 38.0% for hospitals, 2.2% to 23.9% for long-term care, and 0% to 17% for home care have been reported.3 Incidence rates of less than 2% are ideal. However, the optimal incidence rate may vary depending on patient case mix, severity of illness, and other contextual factors. Pressure ulcers in elderly persons have also been associated with increased mortality rates.4 Because pressure ulcers are now considered a good indicator of quality of care, the failure to prevent or heal them can lead to litigation.5