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Effect of Pressure Ulcers on Length of Hospital Stay

  • Nicholas Graves (a1), Frances Birrell (a2) and Michael Whitby (a2)

To identify the independent effect of pressure ulcers on excess length of stay and control for all observable factors that may also contribute to excess length of stay. Hospitalized patients who develop a pressure ulcer during their hospital stay are at a greater risk for increased length of stay as compared with patients who do not.


Cross-sectional, observational study.


Tertiary-care referral and teaching hospital in Australia.


Two thousand hospitalized patients 18 years and older who had a minimum stay in the hospital of 1 night and admission to selected clinical units.


Two thousand participants were randomly selected from 4,500 patients enrolled in a prospective survey conducted between October 2002 and January 2003. Quantile median robust regression was used to assess risk factors for excess length of hospital stay.


Having a pressure ulcer resulted in a median excess length of stay of 4.31 days. Twenty other variables were statistically significant at the 5% level in the final model.


Pressure ulcers make a significant independent contribution to excess length of hospitalization beyond what might be expected based on admission diagnosis. However, our estimates were substantially lower than those currently used to make predictions of the economic costs of pressure ulcers; existing estimates may overstate the true economic cost.

Corresponding author
School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove QLD, 4059,
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2. RM Allman . Pressure sores among hospitalized patients. Ann Intern Med 1986;105:337342.

3. HM Lapsley , R Vogels . Cost and prevention of pressure ulcers in an acute teaching hospital. Int J Qual Health Care 1996;8:6166.

6. JS Thompson , RG Brooks . The economics of preventing and treating pressure ulcers: a pilot study. Journal of Wound Care 1999;8:312316.

8. LW Gerson . The incidence of pressure sores in active treatment hospitals. Int J Nurs Stud 1975;12:201204.

9. M Clark , M Benbow , M Butcher , K Gebhardt , G Teasley , J Zoller . Collecting pressure ulcer prevention and management outcomes: 1. British Journal of Nursing 2002;11:230238.

14. L Phillips . Cost-effective strategy for managing pressure ulcers in critical care: a prospective, non-randomised, cohort study. Supplement to Journal of Tissue Viability 2000;10:26.

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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
  • URL: /core/journals/infection-control-and-hospital-epidemiology
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