With COVID and Stop Pressure Ulcer Day, Specialised Care Has Never Been More Critical
As we all continue to seek shelter in our homes from the global coronavirus pandemic, the stresses the most vulnerable amongst us, the elderly, face on a daily basis are now shared by all of us.
We—the young, the middle aged, the vibrant, the mobile—are now limited to home. We sit in chairs for hours on end. Spend more hours than normal in our beds. We are moving less and less and our bodies are letting us know. And as long as we must stay at home due to mandates, there is, quite literally, nothing we can do about it.
This is how our elderly, many of whom are limited to a chair or bed, feel every day. This confinement places them at a high risk of pressure ulcers, tissue that becomes damaged, painful, and prone to infection due to the interruption of blood flow that occurs from sitting or lying for hours on end without relief. Pressure ulcers, their treatment and their prevention, is a constant challenge for caregivers.
I bring this up because the healthcare sector is approaching the annual event – Worldwide Stop Pressure Ulcer Day, this year on the 19th of November. The event inspires Caremed, a leader in the design and manufacture of pressure care mattresses, and others in the industry, to reach out to customers and the public on recognising the threat and how best to protect patients and loved ones from developing pressure ulcers and/or accelerate recovery.
Understanding pressure ulcers
It’s not just the frail and/or elderly who suffer from pressure issues although they are by far the largest patient population to fall prey to them. You can get pressure ulcers. And so can I. A major surgery that requires one to lie on one’s back for days or weeks on end will likely cause pressure ulcers.
Pressure ulcers most often develop on skin that covers bony prominences of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips, tailbone, shoulder blades, and even the back of one’s head. The skin may remain intact or present as an open ulcer. They typically develop over days, but it is not unusual for a pressure ulcer to begin to form in a matter of hours. While most heal with treatment, some never completely heal.
According to the United Kingdom’s NHS Safety Thermometer, evidence suggests that up to 2,000 patients a month develop pressure ulcers. The evidence also shows the incidence rate is as high as one in 20 patients! Mobility issues are a major factor, but age, skin density, obesity, poor diet, and a host of medical conditions that affect blood supply—diabetes, peripheral artery disease, kidney and heart failure, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease—all contribute to pressure ulcers forming. Left untreated, pressure ulcers can lead to infections of the skin, connecting soft tissue and in more serious cases, infections of bones and joints, leading to tissue decay.
Care and prevention of pressure ulcers
There are a number of things care teams can do to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers developing such as regularly changing a patient’s position, checking the skin on a daily basis and improving a patient’s diet. The biggest advancement in the care and prevention of pressure ulcers is technology. More specifically, sophisticated mattresses developed, tested, perfected, and marketed throughout the world by Caremed and our customers specifically for high-risk patients, many in acute-care hospitals.
The European Pressure Advisory Panel recommends caregivers periodically turn and reposition immobile patients to reduce pressure exerted on the skin. To keep the pressure off patients and caregiver, Caremed has a range of high performing mattresses with pressure redistributing systems that automatically keep the patient’s weight evenly distributed and supported. We are often recognised as the gold standard in the industry.
Our alternating pressure care solutions are feature rich and have become increasingly sophisticated based on research and feedback from OEM clients and hospitals. Consider these unique features that benefit both patient and caregivers and elevate pressure ulcer prevention and treatment:
- Automatic weight sensing technology built into the mattress that detects patient weight, position and movements. The mattress constantly measures the patient’s weight and adjusts the settings as needed to keep the patient within a safe therapy range. This feature also gives caregivers deep insights into the patient’s movements over time which allows for much more accurate in pressure adjustment compared to other auto pressure adjustment systems.
- An egress alarm that alerts staff if the patient has left the mattress, whether due to a fall or unassisted walk to the toilet.
- Powerful compressors for fast response and higher weight bearing capacity. Some mattresses also include a lower safety cell which remains fully inflated to provide greater surface and prevent heavier patients from “sinking” into the mattress and compromising the support of the alternating pressure.
- The option of an integrated pump so there is no separate equipment to hang from the bed.
- Battery back-up built in the pump itself for full operation and greater safety while transporting the patient or in the event of power disruption.
- Fully sealed mattress base with welded seams and double-layer waterfall flap options for optimal infection control in acute scenarios.
“The P12 H (Above) is one of the most advanced mattress control units on the market, with realtime sensor pad pressure adjustment (for higher levels of accuracy), battery back up, and egress alert sensors, this control unit provides care centres optimal pressure care features that suit a variety of differing care scenarios in acute environments”
A wise investment in stopping pressure ulcers
Advanced pressure mattresses represents a significant investment versus lower-priced overlays and some may wonder about the return on investment. To demonstrate cost effectiveness, a multi-centre study was undertaken to determine the added clinical value of a mattress replacement. As part of the study, 1,971 patients were randomly assigned to a mattress replacement or a mattress overlay.
While the overall incidence of pressure injury was similar, patients in the overlay group developed wounds 10 days sooner, resulting in additional treatment costs. Overlays were also deemed less acceptable in terms of comfort. The evaluation concluded that using a mattress replacement was 80 percent more cost efficient despite a higher initial expenditure.1
It is worth noting that each care environment is unique and should select its pressure care mattresses to meet clinical and patient population needs. There are solutions that work very well for long-term care and nursing facilities and those deeply in tune with the demanding environment of an acute care hospital. What is unique to Caremed is that we are able to customise solutions to specific hospital requirements, working through our customers who work directly with the hospitals.
In truth, the issue of pressure ulcers is so serious and so widespread in acute-care hospitals and nursing homes, every day should be recognised as a Stop Pressure Ulcer Day. Should you have an immediate need for any of Caremed mattresses at home or at a healthcare centre or, if you are a customer with a specific requirement, we encourage you to contact us. We are happy to schedule a video chat with you to discuss all of the features and options. In this global pandemic, which touches all of our lives, it’s up to use to care for the most vulnerable and keep each other as safe and healthy as possible. Contact Caremedhere.
1 Iglesias C, Nixon J, Cranny G et al. (2006) Pressure relieving support surfaces (PRESSURE) trial: cost effectiveness analysis. BMJ 2006;332(7555):1413-1415.