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The 1999 National Pressure Ulcer Prevalence Survey: a benchmarking approach.

OBJECTIVE: Health care professionals are faced with the ongoing challenge of improving performance. From physicians and nurses to process improvement experts, health care professionals are discovering new approaches to increasing the overall effectiveness of procedures used in clinical areas. One way to collect data useful for benchmarking specific clinical practices is through the use of prevalence studies.

DESIGN: A 1-day pressure ulcer prevalence survey was performed in March 1999. Acute care facilities across the United States volunteered to participate in the data collection process. Patients' demographic information, pressure ulcer stages, locations, and support surfaces were noted.

SETTING: 356 acute care facilities.

PARTICIPANTS: 42,817 patients.

RESULTS: The overall pressure ulcer prevalence was 14.8%, with a nosocomial pressure ulcer prevalence of 7.1%.

CONCLUSIONS: Benchmarking is one of the tools that enables health care professionals to measure and identify inconsistencies in patient care practices. Understanding these inconsistencies enables the health care team to develop processes that are innovative and efficient. National pressure ulcer prevalence surveys provide a benchmark to evaluate an individual facility's care and treatment of patients at risk for pressure ulcer development. Success, however, lies in the health care professional's ability to take the information and apply it to clinical practice. Through the use of a benchmarking approach, performance gaps can be identified, processes can be put into place, and improved patient outcomes can be monitored and maintained.

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