Sacral pressure ulcers (PUs) are a serious complication in frail elderly patients. Thin tissue in the sacral area, low body mass index, and anatomical location contribute to the development of sacral PUs. A comparative, descriptive study was conducted to identify patient systemic factors associated with sacral PUs and to compare survival time in patients with and without PU.
All consecutive patients with PUs (n = 77) and without sacral PUs (n = 53) admitted to the skilled nursing department of a geriatric hospital in Jerusalem, Israel between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 were eligible to participate. Charts of previously admitted patients were abstracted and patients were prospectively followed until discharge, death, or the end of the study. Patient demographics, comorbidities, nutritional status, physical and cognitive function (measured using the Reisberg’s Functional Assessment Staging Tool [FAST], Stages of Dementia of Alzheimer Scale, and the Glasgow Coma Scale), PU status, number of courses of antibiotic treatment during admission, length of hospitalization, and mortality were compared between patients admitted with and without a sacral PU using descriptive and univariate statistics. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for sacral PU versus without PU by study covariate. The association between sacral PU and survival time was assessed using Kaplan-Meier models. Patients with a sacral PU were significantly older (average age 81.60 ±10.78 versus 77.06±11.19 years old, P = 0.02) and had a higher prevalence of dementia (70% versus 30%, P = 0.007), Parkinson’s disease (92.3% versus 7.7%, P = 0.03), and anemia (67.7% versus 32.3%, P = 0.06) than patients admitted without a PU. Patients with a sacral PU also had a lower body mass index (23.1 versus 25.4, P = 0.04), and lower hemoglobin (10.54 versus 11.11, P = 0.03), albumin (26.2 versus 29.7, P = 0.002), and total protein levels (61.3 versus 65.7, P = 0.04). In addition, antibiotic treatment was significantly higher in the patients with PU (50.6% versus 28.3%, P = 0.01). Patients with a sacral PU also had significantly lower physical and cognitive functioning scores and their median survival time was 70 days compared to 401 days in the non-PU group (P <0.001). These findings are generally consistent with the literature regarding risk factors for PU development and confirm the need for preventive measures. In addition, clinicians need to address the overall goal of patient care and patient quality of life when considering PU management interventions in this patient population.