The cost of preventable pressure sores


This month, attention is being drawn worldwide to the issue of pressure ulcers – a painful, distressing (and largely preventable) condition that costs the NHS more than £3.8million each day and is a key indicator of nursing care.


Pressure ulcers – the facts

  • 700,000 people are affected by pressure sores each year
  • 186,617 people acquire them in hospital
  • Each new pressure sore costs an additional £4,000 in nursing care
  • In the most severe cases, cost of treatment can be up to £ 40,000 per person

What are pressure ulcers?

Pressure ulcers – also known as pressure sores or bedsores – are injuries that occur to the skin and underlying tissue when the skin is placed under pressure. Because the pressure disrupts the flow of blood through the skin, it can lead to the skin breaking down and an ulcer forming.

Ulcers are graded 1 to 4, depending on their severity. At their most severe, they can be open wounds that expose the bone or muscle beneath and can lead to serious complications such as blood poisoning and gangrene.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has reduced mobility, vascular damage or a condition that affects their blood flow – such as type 2 diabetes – is at a higher risk of developing pressure ulcers. The over 65’s, people who are malnourished or dehydrated and those in wheelchairs or who have to lie in bed for long periods are particularly vulnerable.

Some areas of the body are more prone than others, especially those with little body fat such as the shoulders, back of the head, knees, heels and spine.

Campaign launched to Stop the Pressure

In October last year, a campaign – Stop the Pressure – was launched in NHS Midlands and East to show that specific preventative measures can be extremely effective in reducing the incidence of pressure sores. The campaign achieved a 50% reduction in new pressure ulcers in one year and has now been rolled out nationwide. November 2014 has been designated Stop the Pressure Month – with Stop Pressure Ulcer Day happening in countries worldwide on November 20th.

The campaign is highlighting how improvements to processes can significantly help in the prevention and successful treatment of pressure ulcers. These have included the introduction of specially designed mattresses and cushions to help protect the body, along with:

  • early inspection of skin
  • regular comfort rounds
  • offloading heels
  • making sure that the patient’s skin is kept clean and dry

In addition, the campaign is emphasising the importance of nutrition and hydration in reducing the risks.

Pressure ulcers can be avoided – know your risks

It is still estimated however, that, despite these positive moves to reduce their incidence, pressure ulcers are accountable for up to 2% of preventable deaths. It is important that people understand how such a painful condition can develop and what the risk factors are.  The appropriate preventative measures and early treatment are vital, especially for those who are vulnerable.


If you, or someone you love, have experienced pressure sores whilst undergoing medical treatment, you may have a claim for compensation. Please contact us on 0800 321 3112 and speak to one of our medically qualified advisers or contact us to make an enquiry.

Read our case studies on inadequate nursing care including problems with pressure sores.


For more information on the Stop the Pressure campaign, please click here

Posted 26th November 2014 | Posted in News,Uncategorised