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Pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers are also called bedsores, decubitus ulcers, or simply decubitus.  The word decubitus is derived from the Latin phrase dekumbere - to lie flat.  Strictly speaking, the term "decubitus" should be reserved to pressure damage that occurs when someone is lying down.  Some people use the term for all types of pressure damage, and this is actually incorrect for someone who ended up with a pressure ulcer from sitting in a wheelchair.  We at WoundsAfrica are not that strict about mixing these terms up - that is not the critical issue here. The important thing is to prevent pressure ulcers, detect them early, and set into motion the right treatment as quickly as possible.

Note that we prefer to talk about pressure injury rather than pressure ulcers.  This is to include also the pressure damage that occurs before the skin is broken.  Unfortunately, at its earliest stages, pressure injury is often not recognized by health care providers.


Pressure injuries are sadly a prevalent condition.  At some health institutions  (older people's homes/ hospital wards), the incidence can be between 10% and 20%, even in western countries. Pressure injuries are such a  problem globally that we mark this with an international pressure ulcer prevention day every third Thursday in November.


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Key points


How do pressure injuries happen?


Identifying patients at high risk to developing pressure injuries

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Staging of pressure injuries

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Preventing pressure injuries


Treating pressure injuries


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