Guest Columns

Pressure injury or pressure ulcer: What's in a name?

Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ
Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ

The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel recently made significant updates to the definitions and staging system for pressure ulcers to reflect the latest evidence and trending practice changes.

NPUAP hosted a consensus meeting with more than 400 professionals who represented national and international experts in the field of skin health and wound treatment to reach consensus on the standards and definitions updates.

Notably, the NPUAP announced important changes in practice, including the terminology switch from “pressure ulcer” to the more precise “pressure injury,” which better describes injuries to both intact and ulcerated skin.

NPUAP also agreed to remove the word “suspected” from the Deep Tissue Injury diagnostic label, and added Medical Device Related Pressure Injury and Mucosal Membrane Pressure Injury as additional definitions.

When new evidence comes out, we want to make sure your delivery of care advances with it. Take the time to read about the updated staging system. Understand the changes and incorporate them into your organization. New schematic artwork for each stage is also available free of charge on the NPUAP website.

When you think about what this means to clinical practice, these new changes and terminology provides the perfect opportunity to ensure policies and procedures reflect these updates. Consider how you'll revise your education documents and teachings. Do you already have a pressure injury or skin health task force in place? Utilize this team to spread the word on the updated staging and definitions. Divide and conquer the review and update of skin health education resources to make sure that they all reflect these new changes. Use your resources! Be sure to check the NPUAP website for updated teaching points and more information on the “why” behind these changes.

This updated staging is certainly a shift in terminology. It may take some time to get used to saying “pressure injury” instead of “pressure ulcer,” but it's more than just the word change. These updates now allow for clearer definition of skin injuries, which may also afford better opportunities for treatment. And when you consider how it could positively impact outcomes, it is change healthcare providers and residents can both welcome.  

Skin is the largest organ and often, most overlooked. We must challenge ourselves and colleagues to think about skin health differently because healthy skin is just as important as a healthy heart, brain or lungs.

Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ is the chief nursing officer at Medline Industries Inc. and a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.

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