When becoming a nurse, safety becomes a top priority. There are a number of factors that make being safe something that all health care professionals should strive for. It is not only important for the patient’s health and well-being, but to the nurse and the facility where they are employed, or are providing care. Patients are the nurse’s responsibility, and when safe practices are not used, the nurse and their facility are at legal and financial risk. When safety is not made a priority, patients can progress into further problems, requiring care beyond what would have been necessary, which is not a desired outcome for anyone involved. Two issues that are of importance to nurses because of their ability to be prevented are surgical site infections and pressure ulcers. Both of these issues are directly related to the care that the patient receives from their nurse. The quality of care that a nurse gives their patient may determine whether they develop either of these common complications, so it is helpful to understand more about them and their importance.
Pressure ulcers can develop on patients that are lying in bed for prolonged periods of time. These will typically occur on an area of skin over a bony prominence such as a heel, elbow, shoulder, ankle, or buttocks. When pressure is applied to the area, blood is prevented from flowing there, which causes the skin to break down. There are three factors that are pressure related that contribute to the development of pressure ulcers: (1) pressure intensity, (2) pressure duration, and (3) tissue tolerance (Potter, Perry, Stockert, Hall, 2013). Pressure ulcers are grouped into categories by their severity, with stage I being the least severe, and stage IV being the most severe. Pressure ulcers are of extreme importance because there are a variety of complications, some very serious, that can occur if they are allowed to develop. Whenever there is skin breakdown, infection is a threat. Once infection happens, the patient is at risk for cellulitis, bone and joint infections, and sepsis.
When a pressure ulcer develops, hospital stays become greatly extended, and can even end in death. In a 2006 study done of all hospital patients with reports of pressure ulcers during their stay, in hospital death occurred in 11.6 percent of patients with a secondary pressure ulcer (Russo, Steiner, & Spector, 2008). The incidence of pressure ulcers is directly related to the quality of care that is offered in a facility. Because of this, in 2008 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a policy that would ensure facilities are not reimbursed for costs related to eight conditions. Stage III and stage IV pressure ulcers that occur during hospitalization are included on that list. This is to serve as an incentive for facilities to improve their quality of care (Potter, Perry, Stockert, Hall, 2013).
It is extremely important for nurses to be on the lookout for...