Preventing Pressure Ulcers and Skin Tears: An Evidence-Based Practice Project

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Michele Shropshire

Mentor Department



Both pressure ulcers and skin tears pose complications for elderly patients in long-term care settings. Pressure ulcers are localized areas of damage to the skin and underlying tissues and can be brought on by pressure, friction, malnutrition, and immobility. Complications include infection, sepsis, bacteremia, and cellulitis. A skin tear is a wound that results from friction or shear forces that separated skin layers caused by impaired mobility, poor nutrition, sensory impairment, or generalized friction forces. Complications include infection and poor skin integrity. Research in prevention of pressure ulcers and skin tears in the elderly population is important to ensure minimalization of life-threatening complications. Aim: Our aim of this evidenced-based practice project was to enhance knowledge regarding preventing pressure ulcers and skin tears in the older adult in long-term care. Results: Evidence-based preventative measures for pressure ulcers included new-and-improved support surfaces such as lateral tilt, hybrid, and alternating mattresses; vitamin and protein supplements; and alternative dressings such as silicon foam. For skin tears, specific skin creams such as pH neutral cleaners and avoidance of emollients; non-adherent and paper tape usage; and silicone contact bandages decreased occurrences of skin tears among the elderly population. Conclusion: In the elderly population, prevention of skin tears and pressure ulcers can be as simple as utilizing newly researched materials or changing basic procedures to account for technological advances. These non-pharmacological interventions to prevent pressure ulcers and skin tears increase longevity and quality of life for elderly persons in long-term care settings.


Gingrich-undergraduate, Offenback-undergraduate, Pohlman-undergraduate

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