Hospitalizations involving patients with pressure ulcers—either developed before or after admission—increased by nearly 80% between 1993 and 2006, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (AHRQ), Rockville, Md.

Older patients, stroke victims, people who are paralyzed, or those with diabetes or dementia are particularly vulnerable. 

AHRQ’s analysis found that of the 503,300 pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations in 2006:

• Pressure ulcers were the primary diagnosis in about 45,500 hospital admissions—up from 35,800 in 1993.
• Pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis in 457,800 hospital admissions—up from 245,600 in 1993.These patients, admitted primarily for pneumonia, infections, or other medical problems, either developed pressure ulcers before or after admission.
• Among hospitalizations involving pressure ulcers as a primary diagnosis, about 1 in 25 admissions ended in death.The death rate was higher when pressure ulcers were a secondary diagnosis—about 1 in 8.
• Pressure ulcer-related hospitalizations are longer and more expensive than many other hospitalizations. While the overall average hospital stay is 5 days and cost about $10,000, the average pressure ulcer-related stay extends to between 13 and 14 days and costs between $16,755 and $20,430, depending on medical circumstances.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data from Hospitalizations Related to Pressure Ulcers Among Adults 18 Years and Older, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90% of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

AHRQ has developed a program for pressure ulcer prevention in nursing homes and is funding research on pressure ulcer prevention in hospitals. For more information about the nursing home program, click here.

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