Risk identification

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Risk identification

Leadership in patient safetyPressure ulcers can develop in a short period of time so it is essential that the risk factors associated with pressure ulcers are understood. A person may be at risk of a pressure ulcer developing if one or more elements exist.

These elements are:

  • incontinence
  • lmited mobility (unable to reposition themselves)
  • poor nutritional (hydration) status, and
  • skin is in continuous contact with a surface that does not assist with pressure area relief.

Once a person has been identified as at risk of developing a pressure ulcer (or who has a pressure ulcer), use a system which enables staff to easily see who is at risk. For example utilise ‘at risk’ cards in notes, visual cues at bed area/on door/name boards, share information at staff handovers, safety briefings, etc.

Using a system which makes it easy for staff to identify quickly who is at risk of developing a pressure ulcer, will assist staff to focus their efforts on who needs pressure ulcer prevention care.

Patient empowermentIt is a good idea that staff and patients/residents are involved in the development of such a system, as it is more likely to be accepted.

We know from our testing of visual cues, that staff have asked patients/residents and their relatives for their thoughts when developing a risk identification system. Various cues have been tested, including pictures of feathers, puppies, and small human figures.


What’s the difference between pressure ulcers and tissue viability?

"Tissue viability is a growing speciality that primarily considers all aspects of skin and soft tissue wounds including acute surgical wounds, pressure ulcers and all forms of leg ulceration." - (Tissue Viability Society 2009).

"Pressure ulcers are an injury that breaks down the skin and underlying tissue. They are caused when an area of skin is placed under pressure. They are sometimes known as 'bedsores' or 'pressure sores'." - (with thanks to NHS Choices).

Scottish Patient Safety Indicator

Scottish Patient Safety Programme logo

The Scottish Patient Safety Indicator (SPSI) was developed to help reduce the occurrence of specified harms, including pressure ulcers. Discover more on the Scottish Patient Safety Programme website.