Preventing pressure injuries

A pressure injury, also known as a bedsore or ulcer, can form when you sit or lie in the same position for a long time. The risk of a pressure injury increases if you have to stay in bed, have poor circulation or you're not eating well.

A pressure injury can look like a reddened or blistered area on the skin. Bony parts of the body like the heels, tailbone, toes and back of your head are at most risk of a pressure injury.

To help prevent a pressure injury you can:

  • keep moving, as much as it's safe to do so
  • change your sitting or lying position as often as you can
  • look after your skin and tell a staff member if you think it looks or feels different
  • eat a balanced, healthy diet.

We prepare a pressure injury management plan for every patient who will be staying overnight in hospital. Ask your nurse to explain the plan to you.

Patients who can move easily are encouraged to move and change position regularly. Those who are unable to move independently are assisted by staff to change their position and ensure there is no prolonged pressure on any area of the body. We provide a balanced diet and a dietician may visit you to ensure you are receiving all the nutrients needed to maintain the skin and circulation.

Additional prevention strategies include the use of equipment such as air mattresses and heel protectors to relieve pressure in areas of the body that may be of concern.

Early detection

It is important to recognise and manage pressure injuries early. They can occur quickly and prolong your recovery and impact on your general health.

Early signs of a pressure injury can include:

  • red, purple or blue skin
  • pain
  • blisters
  • shiny area of skin
  • dryness or dry patches on the skin
  • swelling of skin over bony points
  • warm areas on the skin.

Related links

We reduce the risks of a hospital stay with hand hygiene, preventing falls and blood clots, and medication safety. Read about keeping you safe in hospital.

Pressure Injury Prevention - Information for Patients (PDF 1MB)