Archive July 2018 XIX, No. 7

Are You Doing Enough to Prevent Pressure Injuries

Proper patient positioning will protect patients' skin from avoidable harm.

Suzy Scott

Suzy Scott


UNDER PRESSURE You're responsible for improving prevention practices and communication of pressure injury risk.

There's no doubt your surgical team understands the concept of proper patient positioning, but do they grasp its importance? Perhaps not, because incidences of intraoperative pressure injuries are increasing across the country. Surgery is one of the few times that individuals who are not normally at high-risk for suffering pressure injuries are in danger of leaving the OR with more than a scar marking their skin. I've dedicated close to 3 decades of my career to promoting the importance of pressure injury prevention and won't stop until we achieve zero patient harm. Here's what you can do to help make that happen.

1. Identify opportunities for improvement

How do your positioning protocols compare with evidence-based practices? Note your facility's pressure injury rate, the percentage of patients who are considered high risk for pressure injuries and observe your staff in action.

Develop an evidence-based checklist for patient positioning and make sure all staff follow the steps consistently. Set aside time to educate your staff about preventing pressure injuries based on proven standards of care that are comprehensive, current and clear — your staff should have documented annual competencies for pressure injury prevention.

Gather a team of representatives from each perioperative care area to discuss how your team can collaborate to protect patients. Here's a neat idea: Ask every person at the meeting to jot down her one great idea for preventing pressure injuries on a sticky note. Stick the notes on a whiteboard or wall, and then discuss the merits and practicality of each one. You'll get some great ideas.

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