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  1. Meraviglia, Martha PhDc, MSN, RN
  2. Becker, Heather PhD
  3. Grobe, Susan J. PhD, RN
  4. King, Mary MSN, RN


OBJECTIVE: To assess maintenance of skin integrity in hospitalized patients as a clinical indicator of quality nursing care.


DESIGN: Descriptive correlational study.


SETTING: 17 acute care urban and rural hospitals in Texas.


PARTICIPANTS: 723 hospitalized patients from 33 medical-surgical units.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pressure ulcers since admission and nursing care practices per unit.


MAIN RESULTS: Overall prevalence of pressure ulcers since admission (4.7%) was lower than previously reported for acute care settings. Prevalence of pressure ulcers in hospitalized patients (10%) was higher than found in the Texas Nurses Association feasibility study (3.7%). The skin integrity ratio was strongly correlated for several unit variables, including number of beds per unit (r = 0.623) and average daily census per unit (r = 0.909). Benchmarking data across units showed that units with subjects that maintained skin integrity had a lower percentage of patients assessed on admission and performed daily assessments less frequently than did the units with subjects that did not maintain skin integrity. In addition, the units with subjects that maintained skin integrity classified fewer patients as at risk for pressure ulcer development and did not implement a skin care protocol for these patients.


CONCLUSION: Patients who developed a pressure ulcer after admission were older and had more risk for pressure ulcers than those who maintained skin integrity. Benchmarking data detected various differences in nursing care. Significant relationships between study variables demonstrate the importance of assessing clinical indicators to monitor nursing care. Outcomes such as skin integrity, pressure ulcer since admission, and nosocomial ratio represent the quality of nursing care.