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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v14.i4.20
20 pages

Pressure Ulcer Prevention

Richard Edlich
Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emanual Hospital; and Plastic Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, USA
Kathryne L. Winters
Website Manager and Information Specialist, Trauma Specialists, LLP, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Portland, Oregon, 1917 NE 97th St. Vancouver WA 98665, USA
Charles R. Woodard
Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk; Department of Plastic Surgery, Box 800376, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Ralph M. Buschbacher
Clinical Associate Professor & Interim Chair. Department of Physical Medicine&Rehabilitation, Indiana University School of Medicine,CL 368,541 North Clinical Drive, Indianapolis IN 46202, USA
William B. Long III
Trauma Specialists LLP, Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center for Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emmanuel Hospital Portland, OR, USA
Jocelynn H. Gebhart
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Eva K. Ma
Private Practice Consultant, Portland, Oregon

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this collective review is to outline the predisposing factors in the development of pressure ulcers and to identify a pressure ulcer prevention program. The most frequent sites for pressure ulcers are areas of skin overlying bony prominences. There are four critical factors contributing to the development of pressure ulcers: pressure, shearing forces, friction, and moisture. Pressure is now viewed as the single most important etiologic factor in pressure ulcer formation. Prolonged immobilization, sensory deficit, circulatory disturbances, and poor nutrition have been identified as important risk factors in the development of pressure ulcer formation. Among the clinical assessment scales available, only two, the Braden Scale and Norton Scale, have been tested extensively for reliability and/or validity. The most commonly used risk assessment tools for pressure ulcer formation are computerized pressure monitoring and measurement of laser Doppler skin blood flow. Pressure ulcers can predispose the patient to a variety of complications that include bacteremia, osteomyelitis, squamous cell carcinoma, and sinus tracts.
The three components of pressure ulcer prevention that must be considered in any patient include management of incontinence, nutritional support, and pressure relief. The pressure relief program must be individualized for non-weight-bearing individuals as well as those that can bear weight. For those that can not bear weight and passively stand, the RENAISSANCE® Mattress Replacement System is recommended for the immobile patient who lies supine on the bed, the stretcher, or operating room table. This alternating pressure system is unique because it has three separate cells that are not interconnected. It is specifically designed so that deflation of each individual cell will reach a ZERO PRESSURE® during each alternating pressure cycle. The superiority of this system has been documented by comprehensive clinical studies in which this system has been compared to the standard hospital bed as well as to two other commercially available pressure relief mattresses.
The most recent advance in pressure ulcer prevention is the development of the ALTERN8* seating system. This seating system provides regular periods of pressure relief and stimulation of blood flow to skin areas while users are seated. By offering the combination of pressure relief therapy and an increase in blood flow, the ALTERN8* reportedly creates an optimum pressure ulcer healing environment. Foam is the most commonly used material for pressure reduction and pressure ulcer prevention and treatment for the mobile individual.
For those immobilized individuals who can achieve a passive standing position, a powered wheelchair that allows the individual to achieve a passive standing position is recommended. The beneficial effects of passive standing have been documented by comprehensive scientific studies. These benefits include reduction of seating pressure, decreased bone demineralization, increased blander pressure, enhanced orthostatic circulatory regulation, reduction in muscular tone, decrease in upper extremity muscle stress, and enhanced functional status in general.
In the absence of these dynamic alternating pressure seating systems and mattresses, there are enormous medicolegal implications to the healthcare facility. Because there is not sufficient staff to provide pressure relief to rotate the patient every 2 hours in a hospital setting, with the exception of the intensive care unit, the immobile patient is prone to develop pressure ulcers. The cost of caring for these preventable pressure ulcers may now be as high as $60,000 per patient. The occupational physical strain sustained by nursing personnel in rotating their patients has led to occupational back pain in nurses, a major source of morbidity in the healthcare environment.