Delivering a Healthy WA

Wounds in WA – the facts

Two nurses caring for a newborn babyAre wounds really a problem?

Almost 50 per cent of patients in Western Australia’s public hospitals have one or more wounds at some point during their hospital stay.

20 to 25 per cent of the wounds are potentially preventable hospital-acquired injuries such as pressure ulcers and skin tears.

The sheer size of our state - covering an area of more than 2.5 million square kilometres - presents daily challenges in providing best practice wound care to all Western Australians.

How do we gather the facts?

WoundsWest has completed state-wide wound prevalence surveys for the last 3 consecutive years.  These wound prevalence surveys, a national first for Australia, involved 806 clinical staff examining the skin of nearly 9,000 inpatients across 86 hospitals. The wound prevalence surveys gathered information on wounds and wound management, enabling hospitals to track improvements in care and focus resources in the right areas.

As a result of WoundsWest’s 2007 audit, WA public hospitals received $5 million in Commonwealth funding for pressure reducing mattresses and other equipment.

Here is a summary of the results:

2009 2008 2007 Improvements between 2008 & 2009
3,110 Patients consented to a full skin inspection 3,024 2,777 86 more patients*
43% Wound prevalence (1 or more wound of any type: acute, burns, leg ulcers, malignant, pressure ulcers, skin tears and other wounds) 48% 49% 10% decrease
21% Potentially preventable hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and skin tears 25% 19% 16% decrease
76% Wounds with current documentation 69% 74% 10% increase
Pressure ulcers
6% Patients with 1 or more hospital-acquired pressure ulcers 9% 8% 33% decrease
56% Patients with a RAT** performed within 24 hrs of admission 52% 39% 8% increase
76% Patients approached with a pressure relieving device insitu 73% 63% 4% increase
20% Patients, families or carers provided with Patient First literature on pressure ulcer prevention on admission*** - - New initiative 2009
Skin tears
6% Patients with 1 or more hospital-acquired skin tears 7% 6% 14% decrease
Organizational outcomes
36% Use of a skin tear assessment tool - - New initiative 2009
66% Patient literature on pressure ulcer prevention and care in use 51% 47% 29% increase
315 Clinical staff who have completed the pressure ulcer module**** 152   107% increase


  • *In 2008 public aged care beds were included in the survey
  • **RAT – Risk Assessment Tool
  • ***All patients approached who had read or had a Patient First brochure present in their room
  • ****Pressure ulcer education module statistics taken from Mar 08 to June 09 but was off line for 4 months for redevelopment

WoundsWest audit reports