TORONTO, June 4, 2008 – This week, registered nurses will join more than 3,000 experts from around the world who are meeting in Toronto to discuss a health-care challenge that many people are unaware of – preventing and healing wounds. The RNs will be sharing evidence and best practices with other health-care professionals and discussing opportunities for collaboration.
The Third Congress of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies runs from June 4 to June 8 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. During the conference, wound experts will be examining the latest developments in care.
While there are many types of wounds, pressure ulcers (also known as bed sores), are among the most common. Pressure ulcers are areas of damaged skin and tissue that develop when sustained pressure – often from a bed or wheelchair – cuts off circulation to parts of the body such as the buttocks, hips and heels. Pressure ulcers can develop quickly and are often difficult to heal. Damage to the skin can range from slight discoloration to an open sore that reaches the bone.
The late actor Christopher Reeve, who starred in the movie “Superman” and became paralyzed in a horseback riding accident, died from complications associated with an infected pressure ulcer. People who smoke, are overweight or have diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing pressure ulcers.
“Nurses working in all settings see first-hand the impact that pressure ulcers have on the quality of life of patients. We also have evidence that the majority of pressure ulcers can be prevented. That’s why the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) has developed best practice guidelines related to wound care,” explains RN Heather McConnell, Associate Director of International Affairs and Best Practice Guidelines Programs at RNAO.
Risk Assessment and Prevention of Pressure Ulcers and Assessment of Stage I to IV Pressure Ulcers, two of the guidelines developed by the association, contain internationally recognized recommendations. These tools provide practitioners with sound research and evidence-based recommendations regarding pressure ulcer prevention, treatment and management. While there is a price tag associated with implementing these recommendations, the resulting reduction in pressure ulcers would save the health-care system millions of dollars.
The high prevalence of pressure ulcers is a significant health-care concern. A 2004 study sponsored by the Canadian Association of Wound Care reviewed data of 14,000 patients from 45 health-care institutions across Canada and estimated the following prevalence of pressure ulcers: 30 per cent of residents in long-term care homes and other non-acute care facilities, 25 per cent of patients in acute care hospitals, and 15 per cent of people receiving care in the community. In long-term care settings, pressure ulcers are most likely to develop within the first four weeks of admission.
“Nurses play an important role in the prevention and management of pressure ulcers, but if we are to succeed in eliminating pressure ulcers altogether, all members of health-care teams need to adopt a consistent approach that is evidence-based and focused on the needs of the individual,” explains McConnell. “This conference is an excellent opportunity to share that evidence.”
RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 37 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses and other health care professionals across Canada and abroad. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view these resources, please visit http://rnao.ca/bpg .
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.-30-