Importance of nutrition in preventing and treating pressure ulcers

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Importance of nutrition in preventing and treating pressure ulcers

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Pressure ulcers are painful, and affect patients’ health, mobility and well-being. They also cost the NHS between £1.4-2.1 billion a year. Although a large proportion of pressure ulcers are avoidable, many still occur and, because pressure ulcer incidence is an indicator of care quality, it can put carers under scrutiny.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence states that adequate risk assessment of pressure ulcer development, including the role of malnutrition, improves care. Adequate nutrition is vital for the prevention of pressure ulcers and malnutrition can hinder healing when pressure ulcers have developed. The risk of malnutrition should be assessed with a recognised tool, such as the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, and appropriate treatment plans should be drawn up for patients identified as being at risk of malnutrition to improve their nutritional state. For example, the dietary intake of people with poor appetite can be supplemented with nutritious snacks between meals.

The aims of this article are to help readers understand risk factors for malnutrition and how dietary intake can be manipulated to improve patients’ nutritional state. It also aims to highlight how improving nutritional intake helps to prevent pressure ulcers. On completing the article, readers will be able to consider and review their own practice.

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