When pressure injury prevention fails as a result of non-adherence, various comorbidities, or gaps in care, it makes a major impact on the nation’s economy and has estimated costs of more than $100 billion in the United States.
by Aletha Tippett MD
How do you prevent pressure ulcers? This is an interesting question and one that eludes many. Currently, I am involved in reviewing research proposals to prevent pressure ulcers (injuries). The funny thing is that there is nothing new. Everyone is using the same known techniques, just trying different forms. However, there is a proven way to prevent pressure ulcers and it was done years ago in a Cincinnati nursing home I was working in without any fanfare. The results from this nursing home wound care program were even published.1
This nursing home had tried everything, and prior to my involvement, they were using alternating pressure pads on every bed in their 150-bed facility of elderly, frail, bedbound patients. When they saw the stripes of injury caused by the alternating pressure pads, they immediately eliminated the pressure pads and changed to mattress pad overlays. Every bed had an overlay and every chair had a cushion. Boots were used for any heels that were at risk. The other thing the facility did was ensure that all patients had their skin lubricated with lanolin every day. Amazingly, the facility’s acquired pressure ulcers went from 25% to 0% and stayed at zero for six years.
In the graph below is charted the number of acquired pressure ulcers each month before and after the initiation of the project. There is a dramatic decrease after the beginning of the project and this continued for six years. The few ulcers that did occur with this project usually happened when the skin had not been properly lubricated. Also, an unexpected change was the facility’s falls were half of what they had been before.
This was a remarkable result and actually very easy to do. It’s curious that others don’t do this as well. This facility not only saved money but enhanced the lives of the patients living there.
Product Credit(s): EHOB Overlay, EHOB Cushion, EHOB Boot
Disclosure: This study was not funded by EHOB, nor is it in any way endorsed by EHOB. No funding was obtained by EHOB or any other third party to preform this study; all supplies mentioned herein were obtained by the facility in which the study took place.
Tippett, A. Reducing the Incidence of Pressure Ulcers in Nursing Home Residents: A Prospective 6-Year Evaluation. OWM, Nov 2009. pp 52-58.
About the Author
Aletha Tippett MD is a family medicine and wound care expert, founder and president of the Hope of Healing Foundation®, family physician, and international speaker on wound care.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.