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JAMA Patient Page
January 8, 2003

Pressure Ulcers

JAMA. 2003;289(2):254. doi:10.1001/jama.289.2.254

Pressure ulcers, also known as bed sores or pressure sores, often occur in persons who cannot move around easily. The skin and tissue underneath break down from continued pressure and poor circulation. When the skin breaks down, it becomes red. Open sores develop after the skin changes. In severe cases, the pressure ulcer causes destruction of muscle or even bone underneath the skin.

Pressure ulcers usually occur in persons who have predisposing risk factors, such as poor nutrition, continued moisture (especially from urine or feces), confinement to a bed or wheelchair, and other medical problems (especially spinal cord injury, hip fracture, or dementia). Because older people are more likely to need a wheelchair or to spend more time sitting in a chair or being confined to bed, they need special attention to prevent formation of a pressure ulcer. It is important for anyone with risk factors to discuss pressure ulcer formation with his or her doctor. Even mild skin redness may be the start of a pressure ulcer. The January 8,2003,issue of JAMA includes an article about pressure ulcers.