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Empirical data on veterans with spinal cord injury hospitalized for severe pressure ulcers

Guihan ML, Garber SL, Aftandilian A, Burns SP, Cao L, Durazo-Arvizu R, Goldstein B, Holmes SA, Midha M, Sanford P, Trincher R. Empirical data on veterans with spinal cord injury hospitalized for severe pressure ulcers. Paper presented at: American Paraplegia Society Annual Meeting; 2005 Sep 1; Las Vegas, NV.


Background: Pressure ulcers are a frequent and costly complication of spinal cord injury (SCI) and their treatment is among the most common conditions requiring hospitalization of veterans with SCI. Little empirical information is available on the characteristics of individuals seeking treatment of severe pressure ulcers from VA SCI Centers. Currently, a VA multi-site intervention study, designed to prevent recurrent pressure ulcers among this population, is underway. This presentation provides demographic, clinical and medical factors of individuals who seek treatment of severe pressure ulcers. Design/Methods: Data were obtained from 100 individuals admitted to six VA SCI Centers with at least one Stage III/IV pressure ulcer. Data were obtained via in-person interviews shortly after admission to the hospital. Medical information on co-morbidities was verified using electronic medical records.Results: The mean age of veterans treated for pressure ulcers in these 6 VA SCI Centers is 56.6 (range = 23-89), 66% are white, 38% are married, 87% have had high school or some college; 77% live in their own home; and 87.5% are unemployed. Mean time since SCI is 21.6 years (range = 1-53), 30% have tetraplegia and 73% are classified as 'ASIA A'. 60% are being treated for more than one pressure ulcer; and 51% of the sample has had a previous pressure ulcer in the same site. Anemia, osteomyelitis, diabetes and depression are the most common co-morbid conditions. A description of treatment information (surgery vs. medical treatment), length of hospitalization, and sitting time prior to discharge will also be presented. Conclusion: Information gathered in this project will be used to stimulate discussion among clinicians regarding policies and procedures related to SCI care and recurrence and may be used to enhance practice. We also expect that this information may be used in the future to develop more focused and innovative pressure ulcer prevention programs.

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