As their name indicates, pressure injuries—also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers—are still a major burden in healthcare. Here are some key facts to know about them:

  • Pressure injuries can affect up to three million people per year in the United States, according to a report by the Joint Commission. Nine percent of all patients in acute care settings and 29 percent of all patients in long-term acute care settings are affected by pressure injuries, according to research published by VanGilder in the Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing.
  • Pressure injuries develop over time. It typically takes about three to 10 days for pressure ulcers to be visible from below the skin, according to research published by Moore et al. in the International Wound Journal.
  • Pressure injuries are usually preventable. “In the United States, approximately 95 percent of pressure injuries are avoidable (Olshansky 2008). Yet shockingly, pressure injuries remain the most commonly reported never event,” says Martin Burns, CEO of BBI LLC. “Healthcare organizations should analyze why this is happening and what can be done to increase prevention.”
  • Prevention of pressure injuries could save lives. Pressure injuries have a mortality rate similar to the opioid mortality rate in the United States, which is around 60,000 deaths per year, according to the AHRC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • Focusing on prevention could also bring huge cost savings. “U.S. government testimony suggests the overall cost to treat pressure injuries in the U.S. in 2017 alone was $25 billion,” says Burns. “In fact, according to data published in Nursing Economics and other journals, treatment cost for pressure injuries is 2.5 times the cost of prevention.”

“A pressure injury can be devastating for patients and their families, who may not realize a pressure injury is developing before it becomes severe. The statistics show that without changing the status quo to focus on prevention of these ‘never events,’ pressure injuries will continue to cause not only health complications but also wasteful spending, impacting healthcare systems globally,” adds Burns.