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Trust aims to curb pressure ulcers with special mattresses


Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust has taken delivery of 114 special pressure-relieving mattresses, as part of continuing efforts to reduce the number of severe ulcers acquired by inpatients.

The new Karomed Transair mattresses work by detecting pressure points on a patient’s body, such as the shoulders, buttocks and heels. 

“It’s far better to prevent a skin ulcer from occurring than treat one once it has developed”

Tracy Vernon

The skin is protected from friction and pressure damage by the many air-filled cushions or cells located inside the mattress, which gently inflate and deflate via an electric pump.

The mattresses are being used by all patients coming into emergency departments and assessment areas at the trust’s three hospitals – Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Bassetlaw Hospital and Montagu Hospital.

Tracy Vernon, the trust’s lead nurse for tissue viability, said: “Our view is that we assess these patients as being at very high risk of developing a pressure ulcer even though they may be fine. It’s far better to prevent a skin ulcer from occurring than treat one once it has developed.”

Announcing the introduction of the mattresses, Doncaster and Bassetlaw said “protecting patients from painful pressure ulcers is a top priority”.

The trust’s quality account for the year 2012-13, which was published this time last year, highlighted its disappointment at not achieving the standards it “expected” in several areas, including hospital-acquired pressure ulcers.

Despite an objective to achieve zero level 3 and 4 hospital-acquired pressure ulcers by 22 October 2012, the trust noted a “deteriorating picture of harm” during 2012-13.

The report showed the number of grade 3 pressure ulcers had more than doubled from 65 to 153, while the number of grade 4 ulcers had only dropped from five to four.

The report stated that standards were not being met in curbing pressure ulcers and that doing so was a “priority” for the year 2013-14.

The trust has yet to publish its latest quality account, which would reveal progress in the 12 months up to the end of March 2014, and would not disclose further data to Nursing Times.

Instead, the trust issued the following statement from Richard Parker, trust director of nursing, midwifery and quality.

He said: “We’ve introduced the new mattresses, replacement chairs and foot stools as part of implementing our new tissue viability strategy, which aims to significantly reduce the number of hospital acquired pressure ulcers to improve the quality of care we provide to our patients.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • So this is new?

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  • why did you wait until you PU rates doubled before introducing the new pressure relieving equipment shame on you

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  • Is this mattress doing the same job as the Dolphin mattress then?

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  • Mattresses as solution rather than giving nursing staff time to provide proper nursing care? I wonder what happened to workload/staffing levels in that same period that their pressure ulcers stats worsened?

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  • Richard White

    I suspect that there is much more to this study than is reported here.

    As others have commented, the situation is far from clear.

    The staff involved must insist that NT makes clear that mattresses alone, without appropriate nursing care do not prevent or heal pressure ulcers.

    What is the true picture regarding the stats?? We need to know the details.

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  • Misleading, air cells do not protect from friction nor do they prevent ulcers without good nursing care.

    NT should provide transparent and balanced pieces not promotion for Trusts

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  • mechanical devices may be an aid to nursing care but never a replacement!

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  • I would like the evidence base for the mattress to be referenced in the article, I am very interested in a mattress that DETECTS pressure points on a patient's body and then responds to this. However I think their apporach rather than the specific equipment used is what will make the difference. Patients being cared for as if they are at high risks from point of admission can only be beneficial and may significantly reduce the risk of tissue damage, particularly if a SKIN bundle is implemented. I would like to see te outcomes of this action published in the future.

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  • The cycling-type mattresses DO prevent most pressure sores. They are so effective that here in the US the government (Medicare) will no longer reimburse for facility-acquired pressure sores, as they are considered 100% PREVENTABLE. Institutions are required to pay for bedsore treatment out of their own pocket if a Medicare patient develops a pressure sore while at that facility. These mattresses aren't cheap, but "$$$" motivates administrators in a way that "significantly better patient care" and "reducing unnecessary suffering" does not.
    In no way do these mattresses eliminate the need for adequate nursing care, but they do reduce the need for repositioning every 2 hrs, as the mattress is constantly pulsating underneath the patient. Ideally this allows the limited nursing time to be spent on other patient care tasks.

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  • Someone asked if the alternating pressure mattress was doing the same job as Dolphin. The answer is "absolutely not!".
    Dolphin is the only therapy surface available that simulates immersion in a fluid, the most natural and effective method of pressure redistribution. AP mattresses cause peak pressures when the cells inflate; in Dolphin there are no areas of peak pressure. Tissue deformation is minimised and tissue perfusion maximised. Clinical studies have shown that on AP mattresses vascular occlusion takes place during the inflation cycle.

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