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Role of nutrition in pressure ulcer management

A pressure ulcer is localised damage to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence (or related to a medical or other device), resulting from sustained pressure (including pressure associated with shear). The damage can be present as intact skin or an open ulcer and may be painful (NHS Improvement, 2018a). The consequences of pressure ulcers are increased length of hospital stays for the patient, estimated at 4.31 days (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE], 2005), but also an increase in cost to the NHS, which is identified at around 14-21 billion annually (Nutritional Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel et al, 2014). Poor nutrition has been recognised as one of the risk factors in the development of pressure ulcers. Improving nutritional intake of patients is thus paramount in reducing patient harm and unnecessary cost. This article looks at the role nutrition plays in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, provides practical advice and signposts readers to the resources produced by the Nutrition and Pressure Ulcer Task and Finish Group.