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critical care, intensive care unit, pressure injuries, preventive care, risk factors, wound care



  1. Cox, Jill PhD, RN, APN-c, CWOCN
  2. Roche, Sharon PhD, RN, APN-c, CCRN
  3. Murphy, Virginia BSN, RN, CCRN


BACKGROUND: Pressure injury (PI) development in the critical care population is multifactorial. Despite the application of evidence-based prevention strategies, PIs do occur and may be unavoidable in some patients.


OBJECTIVES: To describe the risk factors associated with PI development in a sample of medical-surgical intensive care unit patients and determine whether these risk factors were congruent with the risk factors proposed in the work of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel on unavoidable PIs.


METHODS: A retrospective, descriptive design was used to determine the PI risk factors present in a sample of 57 critically ill patients admitted to the medical-surgical intensive care unit for more than 24 hours and who acquired a PI during their admission.


RESULTS: The most frequently identified risk factors were immobility (n = 57 [100%]), septic shock (n = 31 [54%]), vasopressor use (n = 37 [65%]), head-of-bed elevation greater than 30[degrees] (n = 53 [93%]), sedation (n = 50 [87.7%]), and mechanical ventilation for more than 72 hours (n = 46 [81%]). The most common PI location was the sacrum (n = 32 [56%]), and the most common stage reported was deep-tissue PI (n = 39 [68%]). The mean number of days to PI development was reported at 7.5 (SD, 7.2) days.


CONCLUSIONS: Results of this descriptive study were congruent with the literature surrounding the clinical situations that predispose patients to unavoidable PIs. While the implementation of aggressive PI prevention strategies is essential to reducing PI rates, it is important to recognize that in certain populations, such as the critically ill, exposure to certain risk factors may potentially escalate PI risk beyond the scope of prevention and result in an unavoidable PI. Recognizing these risk factors is significant in the journey to differentiate PIs that result from a lack of preventive care from those that may be prevention immune.