Pressure ulcer prevention

Preventing pressure ulcers

Understanding the underlying causes of pressure ulcer development is a crucial part of implementing appropriate measures to prevent their occurrence. A pressure ulcer is a damage to the skin or underlying tissue(1) that occurs as a result of cell deformation and/or ischemia(2).

Ischemia usually occurs when an area is subjected to prolonged pressure, resulting in a lack of oxygenated blood supply to the area and subsequent cell death. Cell deformation happens when pressure causes damage to the cell’s skeletal structure and ruptures the cell membrane(2). The conditions for developing pressure ulcers vary among individuals, highlighting the importance of individual assessment and treatment for each patient(1).

An international research review from 2015 indicates that the costs associated with treating pressure ulcers are significantly higher than the costs of prevention. This suggests that implementing additional preventive measures would likely be more cost-effective within the Swedish healthcare system while also reducing patient suffering(3).

Principles of prevention

A pressure ulcer is damage to the skin that can occur when the skin is subjected to pressure and/or shear, and it can be very painful for the individual affected.

Risk and skin assessment

The individual’s risk of developing pressure ulcers should be assessed as soon as possible upon arrival to healthcare. Read more about when and how a risk assessment should be conducted.


By regularly changing positions in bed, chair, or wheelchair, the risk of pressure ulcers can be reduced.

(1) Socialstyrelsen – Pressure Ulcers (2022) Retrieved 23-04-26
(2) European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel and Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance. Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers/Injuries: Clinical Practice Guideline. The international Guideline. Emily Haesler (Ed.). EPUAP/NPIAP/PPPIA: 2019
(3) Socialstyrelsen, 2018. Attachment 2: Healthcare costs for avoidable pressure ulcers – An example calculation. Retrieved 2023-04-26