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Pressure sore prevalence and incidence were assessed in 275 patients who were admitted to a well-staffed internal medicine ward during a 12-month study period or who were present on day 1. Pressure sore risk was assessed by use of the Braden scale and patients scoring 16 or less were provided with intensive preventive care. During the study period 5.1% (95% confidence interval 2.7-7.8) of 275 patients had pressure sores (prevalence) and 4.4% (1.9-6.9) developed sores (incidence). None of the 239 patients who were assessed as not being at risk developed a sore. 36 patients were assessed as being at risk at some time during the study and 12 of these developed sores despite receiving high-quality preventive care. The results suggest that not all pressure sores can be prevented in severely ill patients. We believe that the 4.4% incidence of sores in this study approaches the current limit of prevention.